MICHAEL FRANKS GETS INTIMATE WITH “THE MUSIC IN MY HEAD”

It’s been seven years since Michael Franks’ last album was released, and his fans are elated to receive “The Music In My Head” on June 8th. It is his 18th album to date in his 45 year career. Franks is known for his eloquent and poetic lyrics, clever song titles, and smooth charismatic delivery. Michael describes this project as “very true” and “very personal”– one in which you can hear and feel his “love for nature” as well as his everlasting love for his wife Claudia of 42 years. Once again, Franks has given us a plethora of musical gems while working in the studio with his musical comrades: Jimmy Haslip, David Spinozza, Gil Goldstein, Scott Petito, Charles Blenzig, Eric Marienthal, Gary Meek, Bob Mintzer, and Rachel Z. He feels especially blessed to have also collaborated with his dear friend Chuck Loeb on the song “As Long As We’re Both Together.” It would be one of the last recordings Loeb would work on. Franks’ collection of ten new songs embraces listeners and glides them through a journey of love, nature, science-fiction, old LA jazz clubs, and healing relationships.

Listen and enjoy my interview with Michael Franks:


MFranksCover

 

Grammy-winning hit-maker Paul Brown follows his heart “Back” to his roots

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Grammy-winning hit-maker Paul Brown follows his heart “Back” to his roots

The urban-jazz guitarist releases the bluesy “One Way Back” on Friday, an album on which he collaborates with four contemporary jazz guitar giants and another Paul Brown.

SHERMAN OAKS (30 September 2016): Paul Brown has had the Midas touch since the early ‘90s when he began producing some of the biggest contemporary jazz hits and definitive chart-topping albums by the brightest urban-jazz stars in the galaxy, amassing more than 60 Billboard No. 1 singles. In the past twelve years, the guitarist stepped forward as an artist in his own right, consistently cranking out hits of his own. Although his formative recordings established the sound of the smoother side of contemporary jazz for more than two decades, Brown yearned to reconnect with his first musical passion: the blues. On Friday, Woodward Avenue Records issued his eighth solo collection, “One Way Back,” a self-produced ten-track outing on which he followed his heart back to his blues roots.

“There was only one way back to my roots and that was to go down every road and embrace each one of them in order to find my way back to where I began,” said Brown, a two-time Grammy winner who wrote nine new tunes for the disc that was preceded by a reimagined take on Joe Sample’s party starter “Put It Where You Want It,” currently bulleted at No. 8 on the Billboard singles chart.

Bubbling under Brown’s clean and cool electric jazz guitar expressions throughout “One Way Back” are blues-powered keyboard and Hammond B3 organ blasts courtesy of the similarly-named Brother Paul Brown (no relation) and stacks of muscular horn section workouts from saxophonist Greg Vail and trumpeter-horn arranger Lee Thornberg. Having enjoyed a tremendous amount of success producing signature hits for saxophonists Boney James, Kirk Whalum, Euge Groove and Jessy J, Brown invited label mate saxman Darren Rahn to guest on “Sexy Thang.” Guitar fans will rejoice that four cuts – “Piccadilly Circus,” “River Walk,” “Take Flight” and “Rear View Mirror”- spotlight Brown trading stringed barbs with contemporary jazz guitar sensations Chris Standring, Marc Antoine, Peter White and Chuck Loeb respectively. Standring, Antoine and White stand apart using the voice of nylon guitars while Fourplay’s Loeb emotes deftly on jazz guitar. The session boasts a roof-raising gospel-jazz vocal from Don Bryant on the celebratory juke joint original “Well Alright.” Brown himself takes to the mic to croon the intimate “Heaven,” a poignant, heart-on-the-sleeve country-blues album closer spotlighting the artist’s character-rich voice.

“’One Way Back’ is a journey thru my musical and life experiences. This album is a pure sense of expression and everything I’ve got to give,” said Brown before adding, “I’m a much better guitarist, producer and writer now than ever before.”

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Calif., initially Brown was a drummer before picking up the guitar. After learning his way around the recording studio, he became the engineer for R&B legends Diana Ross, Luther Vandross and Aretha Franklin. Moving over into the producer’s seat, Brown almost single-handedly architected the sound of smooth/contemporary jazz since the 1990s before delivering his solo debut in 2004, “Up Front.” From subsequent albums, three of which went Top 10, two singles -2005’s “Winelight” and 2007’s “The Rhythm Method” – were the most-played radio songs of their respective years. Concert performances around the world enabled him to refine and develop his guitar chops as well as cultivate his fan base far beyond the limiting confines of a recording studio. For more information, please visit www.PaulBrownJazz.com.

Brown’s “One Way Back” album contains the following songs:

“Put It Where You Want It”

“Sexy Thang” (featuring Darren Rahn)

“Hush”

“Piccadilly Circus” (featuring Chris Standring)

“River Walk” (featuring Marc Antoine)

“Well Alright” (featuring Don Bryant)

“Take Flight” (featuring Peter White)

“One Way Back”

“Rear View Mirror” (featuring Chuck Loeb)

“Heaven”

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BRIAN SIMPSON STRAIGHT “OUT OF A DREAM”

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

“SECOND CHANCES” FOR JESSY J

Haven’t we all wished we had the chance to do some thing over again? Of course we have. According to Jessy J, she too wanted that chance, thus the title of her latest cd: “Second Chances.” It boasts funkiness, sexiness, and grooviness. Being a multi-instrumentalist, playing the saxophone, piano, and flute, and also being a singer and songwriter adds creative texture to the cd. She produced this project herself, collaborating with Jeff Lorber, Norman Brown, Jimmy Haslip, and Joe Sample. With a collective core of musicians such as that, the outcome is sure to be a winner, and Jessy’s beautiful vocals are sure to enhance the overall tone of the project. She has successfully fused jazz, latin beats, and R&B into each song. The first single, “Listen 2 The Groove,” has just that: a groovy vibe, and her vocals take it to another level.

I talked with Jessy J about “Second Chances.”

Jessy J

Jessy J

Jessy J

Jessy J

“SECOND CHANCES” FOR JESSY J

Haven’t we all wished we had the chance to do some thing over again? Of course we have. According to Jessy J, she too wanted that chance, thus the title of her latest cd: “Second Chances.” It boasts funkiness, sexiness, and grooviness. Being a multi-instrumentalist, playing the saxophone, piano, and flute, and also being a singer and songwriter adds creative texture to the cd. She produced this project herself, collaborating with Jeff Lorber, Norman Brown, Jimmy Haslip, and Joe Sample. With a collective core of musicians such as that, the outcome is sure to be a winner, and Jessy’s beautiful vocals are sure to enhance the overall tone of the project. She has successfully fused jazz, latin beats, and R&B into each song. The first single, “Listen 2 The Groove,” has just that: a groovy vibe, and her vocals take it to another level.

I talked with Jessy J about “Second Chances.”

Jessy J

Jessy J

Jessy J

Jessy J

The amazing Brian Simpson

Brian Simpson has always known that music would play a very important role in his life. Actually, the most important role. The music of the 60’s Brian heard his Father play around the house had a strong influence on the artist he is today. He left his home town of Gurnee, IL and headed for LA. It was there that he began to get immersed in the jazz scene and start working with artists like Boney James. Brian took a little break from jazz to go on the road with pop sensations Janet Jackson, Teena Marie, and Sheena Easton. Those were experiences of a lifetime for Brian. He would however return to jazz music. Jazz was where his heart had always been. In 2005 Brian wrote “It’s All Good” as a solo artist, and it was a #1 radio hit. He is always working with other jazz artists, and continuously pours his creativity into every project. Not only has he been touring and working on other projects, but he’s also been the musical director for Dave Koz for the past 15 years. His current CD is titled “Just What You Need.”

Brian tells me his story during our interview.

Brian Simpson

Brian Simpson

Brian Simpson

Brian Simpson

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