Official Biography (courtesy of Jazzhole)
Jazzhole is an evolving collective of many of New York's most accomplished live and studio musicians. While Jazzhole's roster has changed since their 1994 self-titled debut, the band's core songwriting and production trio Marlon Saunders, Warren Rosenstein and John Pondel-has not.
Marlon Saunders provides much of Jazzhole's signature soulful sound. A heavily sought-after session singer, songwriter and producer, Saunders has recorded with legends such as Bobby McFerrin, Michael Jackson and Sting, and has penned songs for Barry White, Maysa, and Vanessa Rubin. A professor of voice at the prestigious Berklee College of Music, Saunders has also released two outstanding solo recordings, Enter My Mind and A Groove So Deep: The Live Sessions.
John Pondel's emotive guitar playing on songs such as the title track, "Poet's Walk" and "Timeless", draw on his many live and recorded performances with artists such as Gerald Wilson, Diane Schurr and Carmen McRae. John also comprises half of Verve's smooth jazz duo, Kombo. and was a founding member of the critically-acclaimed Uncle Festive (Mesa/Blue Moon).
In additional to writing, and production, Brooklyn-born Warren Rosenstein mixed Poet's Walk with his brother, Glenn Rosenstein. In the early 1990s, while working on seminal acid jazz tracks "Hot Music" (Soho) and "Jazz it Up" (CFM Band), Rosenstein drew from the rich pool of talent that was hovering around Context Studios on Manhattan's Lower East Side to form Jazzhole, pulling in rappers KCB (US3), Ahmed Best (Stomp), Jack Ruby, Jr. (The Toasters), as well as vocalists Ronnie & Rosa Russ, and Michelle Lewis for their 1994 debut album on Mesa/Blue Moon. A summer of jamming in the studio, with musicians like bassist Scott Colley (Jim Hall, Greg Osby) and saxophonist David Binney (Lost Tribe, Medeski, Martin & Wood) resulted in the eponymous debut album, hailed by Music Retailing as "the coolest thing since US3 and the Brand New Heavies" and Rolling Stone as "the most danceable of all the new-groove groups". This recording showcased the trumpet playing of Kevin DiSimone on the acid jazz classic "Forward Motion."
...And the Feeling Goes Round, Jazzhole's 1995 sophomore release on Blue Moon/Atlantic, was met with similar critical acclaim: "Infinitely funky. and if you don't feel the need to groove, it's time for a visit to the booty doctor" raved Impact. DJ Times added: "Some of the most poetic lyrics and turning out some of the fiercest grooves in the burgeoning acid jazz scene."
Released in 2000, Blackburst marked a change in direction for Jazzhole. Blackburst saw the group mixing elements of electronica and chillout with their soul roots, and moving away from acid jazz and hip-hop. These changes were well-received by fans and press alike. Billboard reported: "Blackburst is filled with luscious grooves and intense rhythms. Saunders and Russ lay down sensuous riffs, perfect for late nights with that special someone." BRE added: "A yummy collection of jazz-influenced tunes that inspire lust, laughter and lounging."
In 2003, Jazzhole moved on to a more acoustic sound on Circle of the Sun. Billboard wrote "... disregards contemporary R&B conventions in favor of musical landscapes that, while certainly earthy, are also otherworldly. ...it is rather sublime. A feast for the ears.", while Straight No Chaser added: "From the opening track, you sense the majesty and sophistication at work, and as the album progresses, weaving in African vocal tracks which sit comfortably alongside expansive instrumental segues, you know something special is afoot. Albums like this are few and far between..."