The Soul Seen is a retrospective of features that appeared on ISPYSOUL during its acclaimed initial run. These features provide a snapshot in time of key moments in the careers, from fledgling to legendary, of several creative and talented artists. The projects featured are older now, but no less significant. The insights and perspectives they shared, speak to their success and as you will find, still resonate today.
From the original ISPYSOUL feature segment, WATCH CLOSELY, 2003
Alison Crockett Before Your Very Eyes
The catalyst for singer/songwriter, Alison Crockett’s solo debut being named On Becoming A Woman . . . , arrived in the form of a realization of sorts. Well, actually a couple of them. The initial concept revolved around the alias Diva Blue given to her by DJ/Producer, King Britt with whom she worked on the Sylk 130 project, When The Funk Hits The Fan and that spawned the popular underground hit, “Seasons Change”. But when the songs started to unfurl the first realization kicked in – they didn’t really support the concept. Feeling confident about the mounting collection of impressive tracks and rightfully so, Crockett who hails from the DC area, but who now calls Brooklyn, NY home, decided to go with the flow and find a heading that would best underscore their collective tone. That process revealed the defining realization that before her very eyes she had changed. “I changed quite a bit”, Crockett says of herself during the year and a half it took to complete the project. “Not significant changes, but I changed more from a girl to a woman. I started thinking of myself as a woman. And these are women’s songs,” she’s quick to add. “They’re not girl’s songs. They’re not about, ‘ooh will “he” like me’. It’s established. It’s established that there’s an attraction. [It’s established] that they’re having a relationship and they’re having problems. There’s [thinking] that I want more out of life than right now – Things that adults think about. So I figured, this is how I became a woman. I started thinking about all that kind of stuff. And I thought, ‘Ahh, that’ll work!’” And the ellipsis that follows the title is as important as the title itself because it acknowledges she is still growing into this stage of her life – Into womanhood and that of solo artist, both she seems quite ready to embrace wholly.
Indeed the talented vocalist has been traveling a path of steady progression toward this point, especially since her days at Temple University in Philadelphia where she “cut her teeth” on the stages of the storied music town and jazz was her calling. The experience not only brought sharpening of her ability, but also an invaluable glimpse at the kind of vocalist she was becoming – a stylist who although displayed a capacity for the jazz vernacular, clearly was something that harbored other musical influences and desires. Crockett can vividly recall regularly being on the bill with other vocalists of a now defunct club in Philly that while describing the others as either traditional or “smooth jazz”, would leave the space next to her name blank. “I’ve kind of been for a long time that artist that people can’t quite peg”, she says. But that characteristic certainly didn’t keep admirers away. In fact, the style driven by her dynamic voice and seductive delivery wooed several who proved instrumental to her further development and exposure. Folks like King Britt, saxophonist and Bluenote recording artist, Greg Osby as well as Geoff Wilkinson known to many as one of the principals of the rap/jazz unit Us3. Crockett appeared on their release, An Ordinary Day In An Unusual Place, an album touted by many as perhaps their best complete effort due in great part to the addition of her flavorful vocals.
Now with On Becoming A Woman . . . Crockett, who in addition to her vocal and writing skills is a talented pianist, has poured her wealth of accumulated experience and musical influences into a splendid, moving collage of sensual reflection, powerful affirmation and beautifully insightful takes. In the process, a complete look at this utterly mesmeric voice, soulful, strong and scored with individuality is granted and one of the more impressive releases this year revealed.
From the explosive opening track, “Save Me” where Crockett poignantly pleads, “Oh save me from/ loving you/I just promised myself/that I would not fall/in love again so soon” to the last, “Nappy” a celebration of her natural tresses, she shifts through a myriad of emotional colors and situations, but all supporting her tale of maturity. A creatively reworked version of Janet Jackson’s “When I Think of You” gives us Crockett with an endearing sweetness while, “You Know What Happens” finds Crockett in an assertive, seductive mode with a jazzy backdrop declaring a certain someone can’t resist her special lovin’. Sitting in the midst of this very solid collection are “Crossroads” and “Like Rain” both amazing metaphorical looks at telling times in a relationship and strong candidates for instant classic status.
In addition to Crockett’s fine work all over this project is the equally fine musicianship compliments of a talented supporting cast and top-notch production from in-demand guitarist as well as sibling, Teddy Crockett. For him, this marks the emergence of an outstanding young producer destined for big things.
Alison Crockett, who is already enjoying success in the UK, is of course hoping for that and more here in the states with On Becoming A Woman . . . As for those who astutely discover this CD, she hopes they will have what she describes as an “ah ha” moment when listening. “That moment when you say, ‘Ah ha, yeah, I know how that feels,” she explains.
Ah ha, I got it! Right before my very eyes.
Check out Like Rain below, one of the fantastic tracks from On Becoming A Woman . . . and click on the album title to hear more and purchase
and now . . .
Alison Crockett is a splendid and accomplished vocal instructor and music educator back in the DC area. She released a few other impressive and acclaimed projects after the very successful On Becoming A Woman . . . , including Bare and the provocative Mommy, What’s A Depression along with a host of features on others. Although she has not released a project in a minute (we hope that’s something she has plans to rectify sometime in the near future) she is still wowing audiences live in and around the DC area. It would be wise if in that area or if you see her coming to yours that you check her out. You indeed won’t believe the vocal magic that happens right before your very eyes.
THE SOUL SEEN HEAVY
I would have gotten around eventually to reintroducing the following piece. It is for the incredibly talented, super fly duo, Heavy. In addition to then spreading the word about one of my very favorite groups (that, still being true to this day), it celebrates what I considered then and now to be a significant moment during ISPYSOUL’s initial run as well as a huge honor for yours truly. However, I’ve been nudged to do this sooner because I have found myself – upon hearing the music of many new artists on the scene today -repeatedly saying to myself or even sometimes out loud, that their sound reminds me or is reminiscent of this talented pair. In this piece there is the suggestion that they and their sound may very well have been way ahead of its time. Hearing what’s happening on the current musical landscape as well as with the shifts and changes in the industry, it seems that could very well be the case. And it’s true -for those of you who are not familiar with them – you would excitedly embrace them and the jewels they dropped like, “Do For You,” “Change,” “Unbelievable,” or “Wonderlove (for Minnie),” as brand new. For those in the know, here’s a reminder to pull your Heavy tunes from that special stash. Without further ado, here’s Heavy – a part of the Soul Seen.
From the original ISPYSOUL feature segment, WATCH CLOSELY, 2004
HEAVY IS JUST RIGHT
“To be referred to as heavy suggest something is too much to bear or that which is excessive. As it applies to artistic endeavors the word often connotes a creation of masterful complexity, deepness or profundity that flies above the heads of most – except for those with the intellect, keenness and “in the know” hipness to interpret it. The Heavy you now hold is neither too much to bear nor excessive. It is instead a incredibly happenin’ musical amalgamation of soul, rock and jazz, fondly reminiscent of years past, that supplies abundantly ideal portions of entertaining artistry for the mind, body and indeed, soul – Masterfully accomplished? Hell yeah – But beyond you? – Very doubtful.”
These are the words used to describe the group Heavy in the liner notes of their recent self-titled UK release. They are this writer’s words. Unexpectedly requested – enthusiastically supplied. It was indeed a pleasure to do so, but definitely not an easy task to sum up the admiration for this exciting crew in only a few words. Or for that matter, define their brand of music. However, a realization soon followed that even a flood of descriptive text would not adequately convey the effect of their music. They wouldn’t evoke fully the way Heavy blends a myriad of styles, revealing influences of the two principals, Casey Benjamin and Nicole Guiland, that belie their youthful appearance -or the way they shatter category with an almost rebellious abandon and whimsical flair, but arrive at a unique yet embraceable sound with sweet precision. A mountain of words couldn’t wholly illustrate the way your head will shift from a gentle sway to groove- inflicted nod to zealous dip and rise upon listening to their fertile inventions – or how Heavy seems on a course lit by creativity and obvious love for music – fueled by a desire to share and kindle enjoyment.
Will Comparisons help? Comparisons to whom? Groove Theory? Rene and Angela? Captain and Tenille? -To a degree, all of the above; for both obvious and not so obvious reasons. Maybe Mother’s Finest or a group they themselves cherish, Rotary Connection, which featured the wonderful Minnie Ripperton. Perhaps like the words, the comparisons just aren’t enough because Heavy is different – yeah, heavy – or maybe they should be considered, what’s next. For sure, they are now. Ultimately, the music will speak best for what Heavy truly is.
and now . . .
Like fine wine the number of projects Heavy actually released is limited and rare. Along with tracks on various compilations and as featured artists on projects from artists including revered, turntable ace/producer DJ Spinna, they released JAZZ MONEY and HEAVY: The First Sessions. But in addition to their high powered performances and novel look, still made quite an impact on the then burgeoning independent soul scene for sure. With top-notch aid on both the music and business sides from stellar guitarist Teddy Crockett, Heavy turned heads and ears both in the states and abroad, which encouraged touring opportunities with likes of Q-Tip, N.E.R.D and Jill Scott.
I hesitate to say the dynamic duo have disbanded hoping instead to believe they’ve been on an extended hiatus; And maybe, just maybe, in a stealth-like fashion, concocting another long-awaited dose of heaviness. If not for a full fledged return, maybe to bless us with just a few more magical musical moments together.
It’s certain the two have been keeping their artistic muscles warmed up and in shape. Their talent and obvious love for music would not likely allow otherwise. Nicky Guiland amongst several creative endeavors, has for years been a featured vocalist on projects and with artists including jazz drummer and legend, Joe Chambers while Casey Benjamin’s been lending his sax, keyboard and vocoder skills to an array of A-list artists including Bilal, Yasiin Bey aka Mos Def, Kendrick Lamar, Solange and as a member of the Grammy-award winning, Robert Glasper Experiment. And so, we can only hope to get real Heavy, to some degree soon.
Check out a few of Heavy samples below:
Do For You
THE SOUL SEEN KEM
From the original ISPYSOUL feature segment, WATCH CLOSELY, 2003
KEM PUTTING THE RIGHT ELEMENTS TOGETHER
It’s a lucky thing that the prevalent mind set of the music industry to foster monotony and artlessness has not kept gifted souls from being heard. The recent rise of artists, “doing it for themselves” has brought forth a crop of talented folks furtively proving that a notable slice of the listening public pie still desires artistry and meaningful messages. Case in point, vocalist, songwriter, and musician, KEM.
A little more than a year ago the “Motor City” resident born Kem Owens in Nashville, Tennessee, released the splendid CD that is KEMISTRY on his own label. The aptly titled concoction of smoothed out hipness, sensual vibes, stirring words, and Kem’s superb vocal prowess that hints to the flavor of legend, Al Jarreau, was ushered to the masses with a seemingly lofty goal – Sell 10,000 copies. Well, not only was the goal met, it was exceeded – while at the same time sparking a watchful eye and eventual offer from Motown Records to promote and distribute not only Kemistry, but 4 other future releases as well. It’s indeed ironic that the legendary label that once set up shop in Detroit would zero in on his project. It’s also fitting when you consider its iconic history of discovering and grooming stars even as recent as that of the talented, young soulstress, India.Arie. But why, you maybe wondering, after confirming his ability to sell records on his own would Kem decide to hook up with Motown? “It’s a win, win situation for me,” says Kem. “Having the machine of a major label behind me would allow me to reach a lot more people and to get the music released on a national level. It also helps me build my fan base, my market base.” He then keenly continues to elaborate on his decision this way. “If for some reason this should not do as well [as planned], I will have expanded my base and I can always go back to selling records on my own. I think the type of music that I’m doing is such that people will continue to buy the records for as long as I choose to make them. I will have established that kind of base.”
If Kem sounds confident, well that’s because he should be. Not only for his astute business acumen, but because he is in possession of the main element which has been key to his success thus far – Genuine, innate talent. In addition to being a completely self-taught musician, his vocal range goes 4 high on the octave scale and his emotive, creative style, which soars, bends, and soothes, employs them all. As to the comparisons made to renowned, multi-award winning vocalist, Al Jarreau, Kem considers himself in great company, but counts Jarreau and vocal wizard, Bobby McFerrin, as more like confirmations than necessarily influences. “I haven’t studied either one of those artists per se, but I am a big fan of Al Jarreau.” He explains, “A lot of things that I’ve been doing or have wanted to pursue musically, I’ve been doing all of my creative life, but those two artists helped validate it. You hear them and it’s like, okay, so that is cool and I’m not crazy for wanting to do this. But they’ve paved the way for it to be done.” And doing it he most certainly is -folding his brand of vocal artistry into a soul-rich collection with love as the dominant theme, boasting gems like, “I’m Missing Your Love” or the first single, “Love Calls.” The lean to love on Kemistry is, however, something he admits to happening quite by chance. “I think that, somewhat by default, it’s an album that’s centered on love and a lot of people get that the most. I didn’t set out to do that. I really just selected songs that were closest to me, I liked the most and,” he adds with a humble chuckle, “were ready to go.” However, he admits, “I’ve been known for writing love songs for the duration of my career and I take pleasure in that. I think that’s something people need, people want, and identify most with.” But you’ll quickly discover that although the intriguing and inventive voice that serves up the love stories is well suited for the task, there are other topics clearly close to Kem’s heart as well. Topics like spirituality and faith. Cuts like, “Brotha Man” and “Matter of Time” will bring you those with consistent hipness and stunning vocal flow. When asking Kem about his hopes for KEMISTRY, he goes back to why he got with Motown and what potential it creates. “I don’t want to be limited to or equated with being a “jazz” artist. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I want to be able to move into other markets. And the fact that a label like Motown came and made an offer lets me know that it’s a possibility that we can move into other categories. I’m hopeful it can become mainstream.” However, he is quick to add emphatically, “But it ain’t necessary! I’m hopeful. [Basically] I’m not interested in the people who aren’t interested. I’m only interested in the ones who are digging me. Feeling me. Those are the ones I cater to.”
Seems like Kem might very well have the formula for success.
Needless to say, Kem did indeed find the formula and has been whipping it up on the regular, over the years, for those countless fans that are definitely “feeling” him and his music. He’s had four #1 hit singles, three Gold selling albums, three Grammy nominations, and is a four-time NAACP Image Award winner – not to mention, he keeps a packed out schedule of tours and sold-out shows.
For more about Kem and when you can see him in your town go to musicbykem.com
THE SOUL SEEN RAHSAAN PATTERSON
The enormously talented and highly regarded, singer/songwriter Rahsaan Patterson, granted ISPYSOUL two interviews early in its initial run. In fact, his first was the first full interview feature that appeared on its pages. The New York born Patterson, who got his start as a child actor as part of the cast of the popular television show, Kids Incorporated in the eighties and later went on to writing hits for artists like singer/actress Brandy (“Baby”), released his self -titled debut, RAHSAAN PATTERSON, in 1997. The widely acclaimed project with gems like “Stop By”, “Spend The Night”, and “Stay Awhile”, helped stoked the fires of a resurgent soul music movement that would be deemed, by many, as “neo-soul” and also seduced a legion of fans with cult-like obsession, eliciting sold-out shows around the country.
Patterson would later, in 1999, follow up the debut with LOVE IN STEREO, another fan favorite steered by his emotive, multi-octave ranged vocals and flaunting superlative songwriting, incredible production and infectious grooves.
We caught up with Patterson a couple years later as he was working on his next project and in retrospect, our candid conversation was perhaps prophetic as he shared his views on his career at that point, the LOVE IN STEREO record, the industry, the label he was then on and the artist he was intent on being. Below is that interview:
From the original ISPYSOUL feature segment, IN FOCUS, 2001
ISPYSOUL: You had already done a great deal of recording prior to releasing your debut solo CD, but was there still any anxiety?
Rahsaan Patterson: It was a natural progression for me to get to the point of making a record so when I was making it, it felt natural, you know, like the next phase. I was definitely excited about releasing an album.
ISPYSOUL: With that first CD, musically, what were you trying to accomplish or show?
RP: That I’m not a follower, that I don’t choose to be a follower unless I want to be lead by someone. I knew that I had to make some kind of impact and in doing so, I had to be me.
ISPYSOUL: I’ve always felt that an artist is only as good as their second project. Is there a great deal more expectation for your second CD than there is on your first?
RP: I believe there is on the second project. Definitely. People have more of an expectation. They want to at least see if you can live up to what the first one was. I believe it is true in that sense. I know for myself, I am always changing, growing rather and getting to places within myself where I feel comfortable with exposing other sides of myself to people through music. So with each album it just gets a little deeper for me that way. I feel that with each album, it’s for people to get to know the artist, maybe a little more in depth – See some other sides instead of that same side for twenty years.
ISPYSOUL: The first single off of the second CD, LOVE IN STEREO, was “Treat You Like A Queen.” Because this was your important follow-up CD and because of the nature of the song, dealing with issues of abuse, was there any hesitation by the label to release this as the first single and to choose another?
RP: Well the interesting thing is, “Do You Feel The Way I Do” was the last song that I recorded for the album and I recorded that song, with those producers, basically because that was supposed to be the first single. For some reason, it ended up not being – after spending an astronomical amount of money with two hot producers of the moment – for a song that was suppose to be the first single because they were hot at that moment and the production style of the song was suppose to be the hottest. It was crazy for it not to be the first single after all of that, but there are certain areas that I don’t control. But in terms of what I write and what I sing and who I do it with, I have control over that.
ISPYSOUL: Along with the song “Treat You Like A Queen” you started a foundation called Soul Survivors [dedicated to the rebuilding of condemned houses into new shelters for victims of abuse]. What brought about you being moved to record this song and to start this foundation?
RP: Growing up around it. Growing up around physical abuse – Being exposed to it and realizing the effect that it has had on my life and my view of relationships. I knew that it was something that a lot of people could relate to and I know definitely a lot of people that come from the place I come from and could relate to it. So it really stems from a healing place and a place of putting out what’s real and something for people to think about. I‘ve always wanted to give back and in doing that, I just started the foundation and hopefully within the next few years we’ll be able to embellish on that.
ISPYSOUL: With now two CDs under your belt and with now a third soon to be released, can you give us an idea of what we’ll hear that will reflect your growth and experiences since the last CD?
RP: It’s another side of Rahsaan. Not that you haven’t had glimpses in the two previous albums. It’s definitely the next album after Love in Stereo. With “Get Here” being the last song on that album, it segues into the new one.
ISPYSOUL: I, like a number of other people, believe you are just half way over the wall of full- blown stardom. How do you feel about that assessment and does it really matter that you become a “star?”
RP: Well, like Sly [of Sly and the Family Stone] said, “Everybody is a star” and my level of success is not defined by what is most commonly assumed being successful is. You know, like having a platinum record and all that kind of stuff. For me, my success is everyday, waking up cool with myself, and cool with my decisions and my choices – Always maintaining true to myself and artistry first. As long as I can stay true to that, I feel that I’m extremely successful in this industry.
ISPYSOUL: Because that‘s a hard thing to do, stay true to yourself and still stay on a label.
RP: Yeah, yeah, but then there’s always a reason why they keep you. Beneath all of that there has to be a reason why they keep you.
ISPYSOUL: Why is it, you believe, that your label has kept you especially since your CDs have done well, but haven’t been the multi-platinum successes they usually look for? Also keeping in mind, there have been other artists that have been dropped for similar situations.
RP: I can’t really say, because I’m not them and any perception I have in my mind is just a perception. I know that what I bring to the table is credibility and strength in music- Individuality, hope and truth. I guess, in the end, its just because I’m Rahsaan and I’m not anybody else. I’m me and what else should it be. And I guess, as difficult as it may be for them to try to understand me or understand what to try to do with me or my music – that’s on them, but there’s obviously some reason why I’m still there.
ISPYSOUL: With this whole Neo- Classic Soul. . .
RP: (laughs) I can’t believe that’s, like, still the phrase.
ISPYSOUL: I can’t really believe that there is a phrase, quite frankly.
RP: Well, outside of that, what I’m saying is that same phrase was around in 1996, so I guess we’re still in this.
ISPYSOUL: Well we’re hearing it more, its seems, because ironically enough, there’s been a succession of artists, new artists, that have come out that have been conveniently plugged into this classification.
RP: Well, that’s bullshit really, because the bottom line is its music, period. When it’s not hip- hop or when it’s not bubblegum pop, then they’ve got to give it something – Another label. It’s just unfortunate that they have to label it Neo-Soul simply because it takes people to a time when songs were strong songs and had melodies and were more memorable because of the sentiment or melody or lyric.
ISPYSOUL: But like it or not its an acceptable stamp now. . .
RP: And now, it’s a gimmick. Now it’s a way to be to fit into this new genre to sell records that are supposed to be hot right now and its all a bunch of bullshit.
ISPYSOUL: Now, with that being said, does that hurt or help you? I mean, you’ve been doing your sound, this sound, since you’ve been doing what you do. . .
RP: And being that I’m who I am and have always been, I never go with the rest of the grain. That just doesn’t appeal to me at all. So on this third album you won’t be hearing “Spend The Night”(song from his debut CD, Rahsaan Patterson). You won’t be hearing that because “Spend The Night” was in 1996.
ISPYSOUL: When I came to check you out at S.O.B.’s in New York, I was very surprised to see the lines waiting outside the door and the place packed. But the thing that impressed me the most were people standing there, being able to sing word for word every single one of your songs. Can you give me an idea of just how you feel when something like that happens?
RP: It’s a beautiful feeling and it’s nice to know that people appreciate it and are there for you. On the other hand, it sometimes felt like I was not either existing on this planet or the other people involved in my career were fucking crazy. Because you know, it kept being said that people weren’t feeling me and coming up with all these excuses why my records weren’t selling and why people weren’t feeling me. To do a show, sell it out and have people standing there, singing every song. There were times when I’m like, what the fuck is going on? Am I buggin’ out? Or like, what’s really going on? So it was always comforting to get to that point and know that I wasn’t losing my mind and that basically other people were just talking trash and making excuses.
ISPYSOUL: So now with this third CD coming up, what changes in that respect?
RP: What changes? I have no idea because I’m not in the position that those people are in to sell records -To make them number one records. I don’t know how to do that. Those people get paid five hundred thousand dollars a year to do that, so they should know how to do it. What I know how to do is write songs, and present Rahsaan Patterson. That’s all I know how to do. I am a point now where I’m not as moved or bothered by the excuses and opinions that in the past made me the reason for lack of, you know, lack of listeners. Now I’m just like, whatever, I’ve got to do me. I’ve got to do what I’m doing and that’s it. Not that I have deaf ears to other peoples opinions or anything like that, but number one, I have to respect your musical knowledge in order to even check for your opinion. I’m 27 years old and I am a young black male who lives in this society and who is very conscious and aware of the state of music and the youth mentality. For me, as an artist, its about being original, but yet, using what I’ve learned from growing up, listening to people that I grew up listening to, and incorporating that knowledge and manifesting it into some kind of strength and power for myself so that I stand apart. I’ve always felt that I wanted to show people that I’m just like they are. It’s interesting because, I don’t know if its people’s perception of what an artist is or what, but I know that I’ve always been perceived as something different and that’s fine, but I always felt like I wanted to let people know that . . .
ISPYSOUL: I’m just like you
RP: Exactly! That we all are capable of achieving greatness and we all have the power to do and be whatever we want.
I’m at a point now where I’m cool with being here, with everybody else without having to prove anything, – without having to prove anything.
and now . . .
Rahsaan Patterson would ultimately part ways with his then label, MCA and his third project, AFTER HOURS, was released in 2004 on the independent label, ironically called, Artistry. The move has become a sign of the times for many renowned and successful as well as incredibly talented upstart artists frustrated by the bureaucracy, limitations and short-sightedness of the major music behemoths. Patterson has since had several other successful, Billboard-charting projects including WINES & SPIRITS and BLEUPHORIA, as well as continued collaborations with A-list artists and producers. And yes, he’s still selling out shows across the country and overseas. Catch him if you can!
For more on Rahsaan Patterson go to his website, Not-of-this-world.com. Of course!
From the original ISPYSOUL feature segment, IN FOCUS, 2003
Larry Gold The Midas Touch
The story of arranger, cellist, and composer Larry Gold is one that should serve as an example to many in the music business or for that matter, in any business. Why you ask? Because his success is a result of his sincere love for what he does, a desire to grow, the recognition of talent around him, and of course, his own outstanding ability.
Check out the whole interview with Larry Gold above
His story is also one of irony because although many of you aren’t familiar with his name, you and scores of others have experienced his “touch”. Gold’s amazing body of work is punctuated by his tenure with the legendary label, Philadelphia International, as first, part of the house band MFSB that propels the treasured classic soul and R&B hits by folks like the O’Jays, Billy Paul, Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes, the Spinners and Patti Labelle to name only a few. And later, as string and horn arranger on hits from Teddy Pendergrass, McFadden & Whitehead, and more. That experience, while concurrently siphoning the knowledge of Sound of Philadelphia architects Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff and renowned producer, Thom Bell, accounts for the prowess that has since driven both, major acts and emerging artists to engage his services. The list is both impressive and diverse, boasting such artists as Musiq Soulchild, Floetry, Jill Scott, Brandy, Jay-Z, Monica, Gerald Levert, The Roots, Kindred, Common, Vivian Green, Justin Timberlake, Erykah Badu, Boys II Men, Glen Lewis, Kelly Price, and more. It’s also impressive because it shines with the glow of Platinum and yes, gold selling success the records from these artists enjoy.
But there are things that stand out in the story of Larry Gold that could perhaps be seen as the basis his for longevity, success, and the respect he’s garnered- things such as his readiness to embrace new situations that ultimately unveil opportunity. Another is his love of the place he was born, bred and still calls home. You guessed it, Philadelphia. And the two go hand in hand. It’s what attracted a very young and gifted cellist with initial classical aspirations but a fondness for popular music, to the emergent label that was to become the fervent soul source, Philly International. “I always wanted to be more than just a cello player,” says Gold. “I was always involved with popular music. Even from a little child I was learning Elvis Presley tunes on the guitar. So it was both. It wasn’t just one or the other.” He continues, “I must have been anywhere from thirteen to fifteen [years old] when I met Leon Huff for the first time, playing cello.”
Ultimately his vast experience, love of both, a broad range of quality music and the art of making records over the years is what fueled his opening of a small studio in 1985. That would become the prototype for the State of the Art recording facility now known as The Studio, used by many of Philly’s brightest young talent. When asked if the young artists who are flocking to his studio now fully know the depth of his impressive resume and ties to the legendary Philly sound, Gold responds, “It depends on who they are. Certain people do and certain people don’t. He continues, “I know enough young producers that they might say to other people, hey, he’s been making hit records since he was a baby.” And he adds, “I think that people like Timberland do. I think they’ve learned after working with me now a bunch of times that its not just random. I think Rodney Jerkins knew. I think that Amir (Questlove of The Roots) knew. A lot of these young producers are big fans of old music,” Gold asserts. “There’s a lot of respect or else I wouldn’t be working quite as hard as I am.”
So when he was approached by the UK label, BBE, to do a record, the concept was a no-brainer – an homage to the rich and legendary Philly music scene he has been a part of for so many years. The result, Larry Gold presents Don Cello and Friends, a cornucopia of some of Philly’s finest, past, present and future, submitting lyric, voice and song to Gold’s lush and affecting arrangements.
Busy with arranging gigs seemingly around the clock and running a popular recording studio, Gold hadn’t given much thought to doing a record of his own and really had to ponder the offer from BBE. But as he explains his decision to go forward with the project, he says with a chuckle, “ I think at the time, a whole group of people were recording at the studio and I thought to myself, ‘well I can get the young kids to help me make it.” Indeed the assiduous 55-year old Gold called upon a range of talents from young and little known to legendary with the criteria for selection being pretty simple. “First of all I wanted everyone to at least have some roots to Philly. The whole concept was to keep it local if I could,” says Gold. “I wanted [the project] to be a touch of the old, but also with some new people. Some [artists] that people never heard of.” He explains, “My intention was to make a nice blend of old and new and not just famous, but also introducing some younger artists.” Don Cello and Friends is the mission accomplished starring a cast which includes Floetry, Kindred, Gerald Levert, Black Thought of The Roots, Jaguar Wright and Philly music royalty McFadden & Whitehead and Bunny Sigler sharing the stage with lesser known, but solid talent like Carol Riddick and Eric (ERRO)Roberson to name a few. The musical goal is achieved as well with infectious dance and up-tempo grooves flowing there way through to warm, sensual and tender moments all providing a hearty glimpse at Gold’s masterful, mood setting, string arrangements. On Don Cello and Friends he successfully whips up the spirit of the classic Philly sound while displaying vibe of the current Philly music scene.
The making of the CD could be seen as one in a multitude of things validating what Gold had a hunch would eventually happen – And that is Philly’s return to prominence as a major music town. When asked about the renaissance Gold says, “I had a sense. I had a very strong sense. I kind of smelled it at the beginning of the 90’s.” But he is also quick to give cudos to the revered Philly unit, The Roots for being a huge catalyst. “The Roots had a lot to do with the city coming back,” says Gold. “Because The Roots really kept playing. They were a band. And when there weren’t other bands playing, they were playing. In a way, they folded into the into the neo-soul movement.” In the end, what he believes is, “No matter what the other markets do, we do our own sort of style and at this point we’re having success with it.”
It’s clear Larry Gold has had a hand in that success both times around. Or you might say, he’s still shining bright on the Philly music scene.
Check out Larry Gold presents Don Cello and friends below
THE SOUL SEEN MARLON SAUNDERS
From the original ISPYSOUL feature segment, WATCH CLOSELY, 2003
MARLON SAUNDERS Right on time
In a business where many set their sights, often prematurely, on “out front” glory, singer/songwriter MARLON SAUNDERS revels in the significance of being a part of something special. Taking a look at his impressive resume, you can certainly see why he would. His multi-ranged, soulful sound has been employed by music icons like Sting, Billy Joel, Michael Jackson and Barry White to name a few. He was part of the inventive vocal ensemble, Voicestra, fashioned by the amazing, Bobby McFerrin. And he is co-founder of the eclectic, groove-driven collective, Jazzhole, that has itself garnered much acclaim and a solid following due in part to Saunders’ distinctive, passionate flow.
Being a vital cog music folks could call on to complete their vocal vision was actually all the Maryland-born Saunders had his sights set on upon graduating from Boston’s esteemed Berklee College of Music. “It was never, ever a dream of mine to be a solo artist,” he reveals with much sincerity. “It was always my dream to be a session singer. It was always my intention of coming to New York, doing tour work and working with other artists. Really just perfecting that world of being a session singer.” His plan had been working to perfection. So you’ll understand why Saunders refers to the opportunity to release his solid debut, ENTER MY MIND as “icing on the cake.” Lucky for us, it was a destiny he couldn’t shake. “For the longest time I was just riding on a high from creating with other people, says Saunders. “I’m such a background singer head. I love harmony. I love singing with other singers. I love that!” He also speaks to his place with Jazzhole as giving him a “chance to be creative and write” and being “a creative outlet.” But for Saunders, who points to the improvisational artistry of McFerrin’s Voicestra as perhaps part of the catalyst for the solo plunge, “It just kind of felt like the timing of everything was right.” He explains, “It felt like the music that I was beginning to hear and seek out around me was just where we were in terms of growing as human beings. Everything in the world just seemed to be like, ok, now it seems like it would be a good time for me to say some things that I’ve wanted to say, because it would now resonate.”
And so we have the aptly titled, Enter My Mind, a soulful, 14-track voyage through Saunders’ thoughts, emotions, and recollections glazed with a retro finish, but like no one you’ve heard before or are hearing now. It is a marriage of his musical influences including the soul-rich ‘70s and the ones his impressive experiences have exposed him to. Fervent, seductive and cool are Saunders’ vocals as he moves from the upbeat tale of perseverance that is “Keep Doin What Ya Do” and psychedelic-soul vibe of “Afro Blue My Mind” to the mood setting, slow groove of “Coolin” and the beautiful, “The Beginning of Never”, a personal favorite of his. “It represents for me,” says Saunders, “kind of how I see our existence and our purpose.” “You journey in life, trying to make some sense of a lot of things. But what I realized is that Earth itself gives us the easiest example of what it is. It’s just the continuation. Like there’s no separation of anything. It’s just one cyclical thing. So for me the song became this great play on words.”
Enter My Mind marks the “beginning of another chapter” for Marlon Saunders, one he didn’t know he’d be writing, but one he’s eager to fill. “I’m at a place where I’m saying, yeah, let’s roll up the pant legs, jump in the mud and get in,” exclaims Saunders. “Because for me, this is a win-win [situation]. I’m enjoying it, I’m having fun, I have a great band and the great thing that’s happening is that I’m seeing people respond to my music and I’m kind of like, wow! That’s what I’m feeling, like wow!”
THE SOUL SEEN OMAR
From the original ISPYSOUL feature segment, IN FOCUS, 2000
Omar Haven’t You Heard
“When I grow up I want to be like Omar.” When asked about that comment, England–bred, singer, songwriter and musician, Omar replies with a humbled chuckle and flattered lilt, “I take it with a pinch of salt because there was an obvious laugh when he was saying it.” The “he” in this case is the one and only, Stevie Wonder and although the statement was made with his storied comic flair it’s also obvious it packed a wealth of sincere admiration. Why you say? The legendary icon will appear on Omar’s next project and he made the call. “He called me up twice in two days in fact, to say he had a song for me”, recalls Omar. “I had to wait seven hours in the studio for him to turn up but hey, I would have waited two days. It was one of the most memorable times for me.”
Viewed by many as an icon himself on his home turf, Omar’s artistry has actually incited similar accolades from artists and fans this side of the pond -Folks like India.Arie, D’Angelo, Jill Scott, Maxwell and more who are often in attendance at his sold-out shows in places like Atlanta, Chicago or New York. In addition, his collaborations boast a list that includes Lamont Dozier, Leon Ware, Erykah Badu, Common and more. On his CD, BEST BY FAR, now being released stateside, soulstress, Angie Stone and hip-hop/jazz weaver, Guru show the love with flavorful guest spots adding to a gem-filled collection of classic grooves and maestro-like orchestration.
Best By Far is actually Omar’s fifth release over a career spanning thirteen years. While it carries such a definitive title, many of his faithful followers would probably proclaim this just another in the string of creative hipness he’s become known for. But again, aside from keen soul searchers here in the US, known about mostly in the UK. The domestic drop of this, his latest, he feels will serve as a good first introduction to his uniquely soulful sound as opposed to waiting to put out a new CD here later with a name only relatively few know. Hopefully there will then be a more sizeable American contingent, captured and thirsting for the new project planned for completion this year. “[Best By Far] hadn’t been released out here,” explains Omar. “It’s only been available as an import. There’d never been any promotion with it. So rather than just stepping over with a new thing, I thought it would be easier to introduce people to the latest stuff. Because there’s the stuff on there like the duo I did with Angie [Stone] that no one’s ever heard. So it’d be cool to give [people in America] the opportunity. The hard core fans obviously know it, but it would be cool to introduce it on a bigger scale.”
For many of those same hard-core fans Omar also carries the distinction of being at the forefront of what’s now been labeled, neo-soul. When asked about being bestowed with the tag he is guardedly grateful for the assessment, but has astutely put it all in perspective. “It’s a flattering thing and it’s great for people to mention my name in the same breath as some of the others who have been credited in that way or to say that kind of thing,” he says. “But that’s as far as it goes. I’m not sitting down saying, I’m the founder of this so what’s my next song going to be. It’s an accolade I receive very humbly, but that’s as far as it goes. That’s not how I sit down to write the music. It’s what I’m vibin’ about at the time.” Indeed Omar’s vibe is one emitted by artists motivated most by the opportunity to create something unique, lasting and stimulating. And the moment in time dictates the focus. Best By Far, a masterfully woven tapestry of grooves, sounds and incredible arrangements, is the mission accomplished. Think classic soul with pumping rhythm sections, in the pocket and funky – a vibrant section of horns juiced with the sweet growl of trombones – strings – lush, beautiful and stirring – Background harmonies layered to perfection and Omar’s lead – super cool and utterly hip. And that moment in time dictated the direction – a lean to cinematic score writers of the 60’ and 70’s. “I always have this idea about who I want to work with on an album,” says Omar. “I like to work with icons. I’ve worked with Leon Ware, Lamont Dozier and Syreeta Wright. But this time I was gunning for Lalo Schiffren, Burt Bacharach, and John Barry.” He continues, “In essence what I’m trying to do is have a funky beat with strings and orchestration over the top of it.” The result is something reminiscent of the slick soundtracks for Shaft or Superfly – jewels from maestros like Barry White, Issac Hayes or vintage Quincy Jones – the magic provided by Philly’s MFSB, with a hint of mod, Austin Powers- like flavor – Funky, hip and oh, so soulful.
It seems unimaginable that with the formal introduction of Best By Far to U.S. ears Omar won’t continue to draw mounds of new found love and recognition beyond the discerning music miners. But of course, that remains to be seen. However for Omar, his task is simple. “I just try to enjoy myself when I’m making the music,” he says. “I try to make music that everyone else will enjoy.” That is the bottom line. Haven’t you heard?
From the original ISPYSOUL feature segment, IN FOCUS, 2003
RAPHAEL SAADIQ DO YOU REALLY KNOW
Depending upon with whom you speak, the name RAPHAEL SAADIQ will elicit various responses. The lion’s share of folks will no doubt place him as the thin-framed, lead voice of the ultra-funky, soul trio, TONY, TONI, TONÉ that garnered much love and success from the late 80’s through the 90’s. From Oakland, CA, Saadiq (né, Wiggins) along with brother, Dwayne and cousin, Timothy Christian, made an impact on the R&B scene with an organic, live sound that meshed their love and reverence for vintage funk and soul as well as gospel with a current day gleam, churning out top-ten hits like “Little Walter”, “The Blues”, “It Never Rains (In Southern California)” and “Anniversary” to name only a few. Others will site their connection to Saadiq as brainchild and member of the group, LUCY PEARL, that featured EN VOGUE alum, vocalist Dawn Robinson and Ali Shaheed Muhammad from standout hip-hop clique, A TRIBE CALLED QUEST. Their brief, but successful union spawned the Grammy® nominated hit, “Dance Tonight.” And still others will be familiar with his string of soundtrack efforts like the hit, “Get Involved” featuring rap luminary, Q-tip, from the PJ’s, “Ask of You” from Higher Learning or “Just Me and You” from Boyz In The Hood. But perhaps only the more savvy music mavens will realize the enormity of Saadiq’s work as writer and producer – An impressive string of hits that have filled Billboard charts and grabbed a host of awards, but have flowed from the lips and tracks of others. Tracks from artists like D’Angelo (“Untitled”, “Lady”), Erykah Badu (“Love Of My Life” featuring Common), Angie Stone (“Brotha”), Bilal (“Soul Sista”), Calvin Richardson (“She’s Got The Love”), Macy Gray, Whitney Houston, Kelly Price, The Roots, the Isley Brothers and so many, many more. The irony in all of this is that not until the 2002 release of his debut (that’s right, debut), INSTANT VINTAGE, could Saadiq truly be recognized by the masses as a solo artist.
“I think, more or less, that I was really trying to figure out and find out what was going on with the [music] business and learn it,” says Saadiq of the wait. “I could of have taken off when I was younger and done an album, but it really wasn’t about that for me – to be like a Bobby Brown or Usher and win BET (the network) all over, that really wasn’t me. I’m really like a band oriented person and I really love making music. There were some people who were saying, ’If you wait to late, you’re going to be too old to do an album.’ But, I was like, you know what, whatever happens and whatever comes to me, I’m [at least] enjoying producing at the same time and I can get off on being in the studio and just listening to [the music] myself.”
Lucky for us he shared his “Gospeldelic” sound, an ingenious concoction of his musical influences, and in the process, proved his choice to wait was the right one. The critically acclaimed Instant Vintage garnered three Grammy nominations – one for best R&B Album and two for the hit from it, “Be Here” featuring D’Angelo. Now, Saadiq is back with his follow-up, RAPHAEL SAADIQ: ALL HITS AT THE HOUSE OF BLUES, a live two CD set that is a soul-stirring, good time ride through some of the illustrious stages of his career, past and present. It also celebrates and represents another first for him – the first release on his reactivated, Pookie Entertainment label, on which the Lucy Pearl project was put out, but that is now totally independent. According to Saadiq, starting with a live recording was very significant.
“The reason I decided to do my first record live was because that’s where it starts for me,” says Saadiq. “So when I was starting this label I wanted it to be how I started my life as a musician. I also had songs that you couldn’t get all at one time – stuff from the Boyz In The Hood soundtrack, Higher Learning, Baby Boy, “Get Involved” from The PJ’s – so I wanted to put all these things on one record along with some Tony songs, and some of the new stuff from Instant Vintage that people really didn’t get to hear. [Basically] I wanted to connect the dots before I really moved on to a new chapter.”
Indeed, the super gig recorded live at the House of Blues in Los Angeles wields an ultra-tight band backing up Saadiq as he rouses a sold-out crowd with an array of memorable tracks. But that only holds half the excitement. The other half comes from the guests who share the stage with him. Fellow Bay-area standouts Goapele and Ledisi lend their characteristic flair to the track, “Different Times,” while Leslie Wilson of the legendary soul/R&B group, New Birth (“Wildflower”), mesmerizes the crowd with soul–drenched and evocative old-school sway on “Uptown.” More surprises come as D’Angelo joins Saadiq for a fierce version of the hit, “Be Here” and the piece d’resistance, a reunion of the Tonies- Saadiq, Dwayne and Timothy- vibin’ like old times on some of their biggest hits like “Lay Your Head On My Pillow,” and “Whatever You Want.” Appearances from sexy siren, Joi, Devin The Dude on “Just A Man” and DJ Quik on the 3T smash, “Let’s Get Down”, round out the guest spots. Through it all, Saadiq punctuates the kaleidoscopic sound of bygone funk and soul, hip-hop and an infusion of spiritual joy, with an ardent tone – confident and sincere – serving as a clarion call for all to share fond memories and embrace the new. When you ask Raphael Saadiq about how he feels when he sees people respond to all the music he’s been a part of he responds with a contented lilt,.
“ I think I’m overwhelmed, like they are.” I think we both get the shock. I sing something and they scream and I’m feeling the exact way they are because we’re both finally seeing it in a full circle.” And he adds, “I just really appreciate knowing how much people really love the music. That makes me feel really good.” “Feels Good” – hmmm, sounds like a song to me!
This feature also provides audio excerpts from the actual interview at the end of the of feature.
From the original ISPYSOUL monthly feature, IN FOCUS, 2002
AL JARREAU SOME OTHER THINGS
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.
For Jarreau’s efforts he’s reaped gold and platinum sales, five Grammy awards, not only for jazz, but in the R&B and pop categories as well, making him the first artist in music history to achieve this. And then there is his most recent accolade, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Not too bad for the one time rehabilitation counselor and Milwaukee native. But during our conversation filled with fond recollection and insightful observations of the music industry, it’s made quite clear he’s not now and has never been in it for the fame or the fortune. Left up to him, the joy he’s brought to scores of faithful fans and received by doing so would look just as good in the trophy case and hanging on the walls. “I love that my music has touched you and so many others the way it has”, says Jarreau. “That is my goal.” Frankly, this doesn’t come as a surprise, but more like an affirmation proven by his drive to continue performing and creating. Case in point, Jarreau’s latest release, ALL I GOT. This newest addition to the Jarreau collection establishes that his recipe for musical magic still grabs blue-ribbon status, boasting a trademark blend of musical genres, tight grooves, memorable melodies, lyrical splendor and of course, the main ingredient that is his expressive, emotive, and ingenious vocal style. Another staple of the Al Jarreau sound in attendance here is his adroitly incorporating nuances of what’s current without taking him out of his trademark game. Cuts like “Random Act of Love”, “Life Is” and title track, “All I Got”, provide plenty of fresh, hip-swerving bounce while the smooth, “Secrets of Love”, lights a timeless glow of romance. It’s yet another example that not only speaks to the artist he is, but to the artist he always wants to be. “That’s a very important thing for me to achieve” says Jarreau. “It is an element, a desire, a watermark to reach for that (virtually) everybody wants to do. All of them (artists) are trying to be who they are, whether that began in 1980 or 1950 – still be contemporary in what they’re doing and to stay relevant to the new generation and not become passé. That’s what I’m trying so very hard to do without turning myself into Busta Rhymes. That don’t work for me. I can’t be a hip-hop artist. I don’t want to be a hip-hop artist. Its just not me culturally.”
It is that steadfast stance of Jarreau’s to produce gems that are all at once, contemporary, complete, and engaging topped with the presence of his very distinctive, stylistic approach that has influenced many aspiring vocalists over the years. While admitting my own one time quest for recording artist stardom, I also fessed up, at the risk of appearing to be an obsessive loon, to learning his songs, word for word, note for note and inflection for inflection. The potential embarrassment would however be thankfully dissolved when Jarreau jumps in with an enthusiastic, “But you know, that’s how we learn. That’s how we all learn!” He then goes on to illustrate fondly how this relates to his own development as an artist. “If the teachers are broad enough then you find a guy who learned note for note and phrase for phrase the music of Johnny Mathis and the music of Jon Hendricks. And then a guy who sat down and listened to James Brown’s music, Sly Stone’s music, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and all the Motown music. And all of that stuff came together with Broadway music. I could sing you most of Oklahoma (the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical) any time you want me to or South Pacific (another Rodgers and Hammerstein musical). I sang that music on stage as a kid in High school. And that stuff just kind of mixes with each other along with religious music you learned as a kid. And out comes this different brand of music with my thumbprint on it.” Needless to say, a thumbprint that has been widely enjoyed through the years and yet still with attempts at assigning a category stamp. Considering the depth and variety of his influences as well as the success he’s had across the music genre board, it’s quite clear why pundits have wrestled with this one. But for Jarreau himself, when posed with the question of whether he considers himself a jazz singer, which is where most place him, a pause of noticeable deliberation delivers a surprisingly simple and greatly modest, “I would be more inclined to say that Al sings some jazz songs.” He continues to elaborate on his description this way, “Because in respect to people certainly like Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Jon Hendricks or now a Diane Reeves or Diana Krall, they are jazz singers. I am not and that’s cool, for me – Because I am not that. I am some other things! I’m a Pop singer and a R&B singer.” Quite a revelation from one who has been referred to as “among the foremost jazz and scat singers of his generation.” There is a category that Al Jarreau belongs to for sure and that is of transcendent artist. He has been, seemingly from the start, on a long excursion of creative brilliance allowing all who wish to hop on the vehicle that is his stunning body of unforgettable recordings and performances that now grows by one with the release of, All I Got. At the close of our dream-fulfilling conversation, the 62-year old Jarreau reveals much excitement for the new record and no signs of slowing down while talking about what still remains as his key motivation. “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 – You can go back to it, put it on and say I want to hear that phrase again, what did he say?” He then, without missing a beat, pulls a line from his 1983 hit, “Morning”, from the self-titled, Jarreau album. “I know I can, like any man, reach out my hand, and touch the face of God!” He then plays a captivated listener. “What did he say? Let me hear that again! He said that, didn’t he? Where did he get the nerve to say something like that!? Wow! That’s all right!” And finishes with an impassioned and sincere, “That’s what I want to do. That’s the mark I want to leave.” Al, you are indeed a man of your word.
Below are audio exerpts from the Al Jarreau interview:
Since our interview the now 75-year old Jarreau has continued to keep a hefty touring schedule, performing not only his legendary, chart-topping hits with a stellar band, but also sharing his iconic voice and style with symphony orchestras from around the country as part of his acclaimed symphonic program, to enthusiastic, long time fans. And with quick wit and a seemingly ever-exuberant vibe, Jarreau in performance still masterfully displays vocal artistry like few others. He has also continued to release successful projects that have topped the charts, his most recent, a musical tribute to the renowned singer, songwriter, producer and keyboard wiz, George Duke fittingly called My Old Friend:Celebrating George Duke. Jarreau joined by a stellar cast of themselves revered musicians and vocalists, pays homage to the influential musician and long time friend whose jazz trio he moonlighted with while still a rehabilation counselor during the early 1960’s in San Francisco. An experience that helped solidify his decision to pursue music as a career. Below is a quick peak at the making of that project courtesy of Concord Records.