Brian Simpson knows quite a bit about making hits. After all, he has had a few of them since his solo career began in 2005. He has been and continues to be the guy that his fellow musicians call upon when it comes to producing. Brian’s belief is that “the melody is still king.” To go along with that, he also remembers what a teacher once told him he should always remember: “unity, variety, and continuity.” While it may have been unbeknownst to him at the time, those three vital components would later become very clear. While embarking upon the creation of his latest album, “Out Of A Dream,” Brian embraced the idea of variety and enlisted a host of co-composers. “Out Of A Dream” could be viewed as an album of duets. Simpson features the superb saxophone skills of Grace Kelly and the flute of Najee on the title track, “Out Of A Dream.” Brian’s collaboration with longtime friend Dave Koz exhibits why the two have such a successful working relationship. Keeping variety front and center, Simpson’s first single, “Sky Watcher,” was co-written by Ryan Farish–who only does electronic music. Furthermore, being an international traveler, Brian takes his listeners on a global journey from Spain to Brazil through songs featuring Marc Antoine and Maysa. And as a tribute to Joe Sample, Simpson penned “Lets Get Away” with Oliver Wendell. Other collaborators include Jonathan Fritzen, Maurice Brown, and Norman Brown.

Brian and I discuss the importance of variety and the creation of “Out Of A Dream”:

Brian Simpson

DW3 pays “Tribute” to their late drummer-mentor Ricky Lawson‏


DW3 pays “Tribute” to their late drummer-mentor Ricky Lawson


R&B vocal band goes retro on their sophomore album, “Vintage Truth,” due March 17, with assistance from contemporary jazz luminaries Dave Koz, Brian Culbertson,

Paul Brown, Greg Adams and Elan Trotman.

Los Angeles, California (12 February 2015): At the untimely passing of the drummer Steely Dan’s Walter Becker described as having perfect timing, Ricky Lawson was only four songs into producing the sophomore album by R&B vocal group DW3. Lawson, who had an extraordinary GRAMMY®-winning career collaborating with Michael Jackson, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Whitney Houston and Steely Dan, had been a member of the band for more than two years and the tracks are his last recordings. Over a year later, DW3’s “Vintage Truth,” dedicated to Lawson, is finally finished and scheduled for release March 17 on the Woodward Avenue Records label.

Despite being rocked by the unexpected loss that occurred two days before Christmas 2013, DW3 knew that Lawson would want the groove to continue. He not only was a member of the outfit fronted by brothers Billy & Eric Mondragon and Damon Reel, but he mentored them as well. He believed that the GRAMMY®-nominated vocalists who are a perennial draw on the jazz festival and cruise circuit is at their dynamic best in live settings thus the record’s core tracks were laid down in the studio live. DW3 maintained that template when finishing the album, which they produced themselves with one cut, the collection’s first single – a seductively soulful take on The Eagles’ “I Can’t Tell You Why” – produced by hit-maker Paul Brown.

“We titled the album ‘Vintage Truth’ because of the way we approached the recording process, like a live jam session where the core musicians – the guitarist, bassist, keyboardist and drummer – were in the room playing at the same time. We rehearsed each song twice, then went in the studio and pressed record. Our previous recordings featured a lot of drum programming, but this project has all live drums,” said Eric Mondragon. “Another vintage element we added that we absolutely love is the live horns – so much so that we recently added a horn section to our lineup so that we could perform these songs properly onstage.”

The twelve-tracker “Vintage Truth” offers a blend of originals and fan favorites that the group has performed on stage for years such as Stevie Wonder’s “Overjoyed,” Luther Vandross’s “So Amazing” and The Mamas & The Papas’ “California Dreamin’,” the last of which won the California Lottery Powerball song contest for their trademark three-part harmonies spawning a popular video ( Making instrumental contributions to the disc were contemporary jazz chart-toppers Dave Koz, Brian Culbertson, Greg Adams, Elan Trotman and Brown.

Four years ago, the Los Angeles born and raised DW3 issued its debut set, “On The Floor,” which peaked at No. 16 on the Billboard contemporary jazz albums chart in the U.S. while it went all the way to No. 1 on the United Kingdom’s soul chart driven by the sophisticated neo soul single “I Got You” highlighted by a sultry sax solo from multiple GRAMMY® nominee Gerald Albright. DW3’s three vocalists were 2014 GRAMMY® nominees for singing background on the Summer Horns album, an ensemble comprised of saxophone superstars Koz, Albright, Mindi Abair and Richard Elliot. Ever since DW3 served as the resident party band on the inaugural sailing of The Smooth Jazz Cruise in 2004, they’ve been part of the sold-out cruise. In addition to performing at premier festivals across the nation, the funksters maintain a long-running weekly residency at SoCal hotspot Spaghettini and serve as the house band for L.A. radio station 94.7 The Wave’s Sunday Brunch held at the same venue. Further information about DW3 is available at

“Vintage Truth” contains the following songs:

“Let The Music” (featuring Brian Culbertson)

“Tribute (Right On)”

“I Can’t Tell You Why”

“Hold Me” (featuring Greg Adams)

“Dance With Me”


“California Dreamin’”

“When You Cry” (featuring Dave Koz)

“She Keeps Running”

“Square One”

“So Amazing”

“At The Club” (featuring Elan Trotman)


Marion Meadows is eclectic. In his own words, “he’s always been a Gypsy and a daredevil.” His latest album, “Soul Traveler,” is truly symbolic as the soundtrack to his life. Meadows worked with Carlo Pennisi to write all original songs–albeit, with a little resistance. Although thinking outside the box is how Marion usually operates, it took a little more urging on behalf of Pennisi to bring “Soul Traveler” into existence. He describes the evolution of “Soul Traveler” much like a blooming flower. Meadows amorously says that “he loves the people he works with.” Graciously, he was joined by longtime friend and fellow saxophonist, Najee, Elan Trotman, Vincent Ingala, Juan Benevides, Phil MacArthur, Joey Sommerville, Kyle Turner, Ragan Whiteside, Toni Bias, and Lamar Gaines. Unwittingly, unknowingly, and with all of himself, Marion created a record that his fans will relish.

Listen as Marion and I talk all things “Soul Traveler”:

marion meadows 2