Year in Music 2017

Billboard Bits: Jamiroquai, Tupac/Biggie, Satriani

Stories on Jamiroquai's exiting keyboardist/songwriter, Tupac Shakur/Biggie Smalls documentary, and Joe Satriani's forthcoming album.

Jay KayBritish funk/soul combo Jamiroquai has parted ways with longtime keyboardist and songwriting collaborator Toby Smith. A post on the group's official Web site explains that Smith is amicably taking leave of the band in order to spend more time with his wife and young daughter.

"It is sad to see him go but I totally understand the commitment Toby feels for his family and the strains of being away from home for long periods," said Jamiroquai frontman Jay Kay in the statement. "I wish him all the best."

Smith's departure should not affect the group's summer touring schedule, which includes appearances at Germany's Rock am Ring and Rock im Park festivals and Belgium's Seat Beach Rock festival. The group's latest album, "A Funk Odyssey" (Epic), debuted last September at No. 44 on The Billboard 200.

--Troy Carpenter, N.Y.






Tupac Shakur"Biggie and Tupac" is the latest in a string of Tupac Shakur documentaries set for release this year. The Lions Gate film, due in U.S. theaters Aug. 9, was directed by Nick Broomfield, who has specialized in documentaries on controversial subjects, including late Nirvana leader Kurt Cobain ("Kurt and Courtney"), "Heidi Fleiss: Hollywood Madam," and "Eileen Wournos: The Selling of a Serial Killer."

"Biggie and Tupac" will chronicle the unsolved murders of Shakur and Biggie Smalls (aka the Notorious B.I.G.), who were shot to death in 1996 and 1997, respectively. Two other Shakur documentaries have been released directly to video earlier this year: "Tupac Shakur: Before I Wake" (co-produced by Shakur's former bodyguard, Frank Alexander) and "Tupac Shakur: Thug Angel-The Life of an Outlaw" from Quincy Jones III's QD3 Entertainment.

As previously reported, MTV Films and Amaru Entertainment are preparing an as-yet-untitled Shakur documentary to be directed by Lauren Lazin, MTV VP of news and documentaries. MTV sister company Paramount Pictures will distribute the film in theaters later this year.

--Carla Hay, N.Y.






Joe SatrianiGuitar virtuoso Joe Satriani has set June 25 as the release date for "Strange Beautiful Music," his eighth studio album. The 14-track Epic album features a guest appearance by King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp and backing from longtime collaborators Jeff Campitelli (percussion) and Matt Bissonette (bass).

The guitarist is planning a summer world tour in support of "Strange Beautiful Music," slated to kick off July 1 with a show in Sofia, Bulgaria. Satriani will be on the road throughout Europe in July and North America in August and September. Prior to the tour, he'll perform with Steve Vai and John Petrucci as G3 May 15 in Mexico City and May 17 in Monterey, Calif., making up a pair of shows canceled in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the U.S.

Satriani took home the outstanding guitarist honor from Saturday's California Music Awards. He also closed the ceremony in Oakland with a performance of his tracks "Satch Boogie" and "Going Down," joined on the latter by guitarists Ronnie Montrose (Montrose/Gamma) and Dave Meniketti (Y&T), according to his official Web site.