Marlon Saunders sees things clearly on “Dark Day”

The belief or even assertion by many artists that their job is to speak to the times in which they live is being vehemently backed up and on display these days. Needless to say, there is much to say, challenge and chronicle in the face of the grand adversity 2020 has unearthed or unmasked, as is the case with the habitual racial injustice and heinous killings experienced by people of color in America. What artists have produced has taken on many forms – rage, sorrow, frustration, confusion and more. When accomplished vocalist and songwriter Marlon Saunders was last interviewed here in 2016, his track, “The People Are Ready To Dance Again,” in true artist form, was a much needed lift of spirits and hope in response to the abundance of “hate, anger and fear” that he then maintained lives amongst us.  It was also an astute suggestion to get your good times in especially since the track dropped Nov. 10th 2016, the day after the presidential election. Let that marinate for a moment.

Saunders has returned again, reflecting times that unfortunately haven’t changed much for the better or for many at all, with the haunting track, “Dark Day.” Far from the jubilant groove of “The People Are Ready To Dance Again,” “Dark Day” is a true, soul-stirring, and stark rendering of what’s happening to black lives at the hands of racial hatred and discrimination, helmed by Saunders with an assembly of voices capable of evoking church-like fervor.

So grave a place our society is in by Saunders account that he poignantly submits in the track, “Wonder if Jesus sang the blues.” As he explains in the release for the track, “The idea of Jesus singing the blues, for me is a very powerful image. It allows the mind to imagine Jesus having a dark hue that is not European. The senseless killings of black bodies, hoping conversations could be shared with the idea of honoring life…all black lives.”

In the wake of recent tragedies – those that serve as reminders of the change that is overdue – the protests, outcry and conversations suggests awareness is heightened and change will begin. We’ll see. However, It’s good to know those like Marlon Saunders are on the job continuing to shine light on the need. B.C.

promotional video provided by Ense

Learn more about Marlon Saunders at http://www.marlonsaunders.com/

Songtress Chandanie ponders societal gender mores on “Make We Whole”


What are the possibilities when we’re not confined by a little box called gender? What does that wholeness look like?” Maryland – born singer/songwriter Chandanie poses that question when talking about the inspiration for her new single, “Make We Whole,” which features long time collaborator and acclaimed emcee, JSWISS. She further submits about the ideology behind the track, “Wholeness is being able to show up authentically, being able to show up in a way that feels good to me. Feminine, masculine, or beyond.” Needless to say, quite an intriguing premise. But this is the kind of live-living territory the talented artist is often apt to muse.

Co-produced by Chandanie and guitarist/songwriter Vo-Era, “Make We Whole” is the follow-up to her single, “I Win My Love”, an ode to self-love and another example of what the emerging vocalist calls Soul Liberation Music. It’s a groove-infused brew that blends the musical elements of jazz, soul, R&B and more with purposeful messages. These are messages that evolve from her own introspective grappling with issues relating to self-love, gender counter-normativity and relationships, but grappling likely shared by many. And they are delivered throughout by her stylistic, vocal flow and tone that harnesses both nostalgia and newness surrounded with siren-like harmonies.

Chandanie, who now calls Brooklyn, NY home, is gradually spreading her sound or crusade, if you will, via performances throughout NYC and through recordings that include her own and as a featured vocalist on projects from JSWISS, accomplished saxophonist/producer FKAJazz and other impressive young artists on the come up. It’s clear “Make We Whole” will open the door to more questions of the soul Chandanie is likely already pondering.

A LOOK BACK @ THE LENGENDARY AL JARREAU

Originally featured in 2002

“The motivating thing in the career is to offer something that has lasting value – That you can listen to in the year 2020 and the music still says something to you . . .” Al Jarreau

Audio excerpts from the actual interview appear at the end of the feature.

AL JARREAU SOME OTHER THINGS

aljarreau

For many of us as kids, being drawn to a figure that possesses a special something that we marvel at and stand in awe of is a pivotal part of growing up – Pivotal because for many, those figures influence our goals and tendencies – Shape our likes, dislikes and ignite an ability to see pass the known and seek possibility. If music is your passion the list of revered that fall under that category is relatively short, but oh so sweet. One of the endearing musical role models from my own short list is the extraordinary singer, songwriter, artist, AL JARREAU. So then imagine the extreme anticipation of receiving the call that would put me voice to voice with the one whose remarkable, innovative style marries vocal prowess with dazzlingly unique, improvisational technique adored and recognized the world over. If you’re a hoops fan, its like meeting Dr.J or Jordan. Imagine once more a greeting that creates an air of history between the two of you. A warmness that invites you to pull up a chair and talk old times. Indeed that was the case this day when Jarreau’s blithe tone delivered a pleasant and seemingly personalized, “Hey, how are you?” But then again, we do have a history together. Actually, I and several other millions do. We’ve followed an illustrious twenty-seven year career of treasured recordings that have spawned classics like “We Got By”, “Take Five”, “Look To The Rainbow”, “Roof Garden”, “Blue Rondo A La Turk”, “Since I Fell For You”, “We’re In This Love Together” and countless others. But most of all we’ve enjoyed, observed, and embraced his unique artistry. The kind that has left an unquestionable, lasting impression.

Continue reading “A LOOK BACK @ THE LENGENDARY AL JARREAU”