Listen to Jeff, Everette, and Paul discuss the project with me:
Listen to Jeff, Everette, and Paul discuss the project with me:
Saxophonist Michael Paulo calls upon friends to celebrate “Beautiful Day”
Ray Parker Jr., Paul Brown, Peter White, David Benoit, Paul Jackson Jr. and Brian Simpson are among his buddies illuminating the new soul-jazz album. The first single, “Who You Gonna Call?,” impacts radio.
MENIFEE (7 June 2018): From beginning to end, saxophonist Michael Paulo’s “Beautiful Day,” is a celebration of love, friendship and the Aloha spirit. Opening with the title track inspired by the joyous news that he was going to become a grandfather and closing with the timeless Carole King ode to friendship, “You’ve Got A Friend,” Paulo’s eleventh solo disc dropped on the Apaulo Productions imprint. The collection is comprised of eight Paulo compositions and five modern classics produced by Paulo with two tracks helmed by two-time Grammy winner Paul Brown. The first single presently collecting radio spins and playlist adds spotlights guitarist Ray Parker Jr. on the aptly titled “Who You Gonna Call?”
Inherent in Paulo’s soulful play emoted through tenor, soprano and alto saxes on “Beautiful Day” is an effervescent spirit, a hallmark that perhaps emanates from the DNA of his Hawaiian blood. A genuine sense of gratitude is another vital element present in his recordings. With that ethos, Paulo crafted a set list that enabled him to record with and feature some of his accomplished friends the likes of which include guitarists Parker Jr., Brown, Peter White and Paul Jackson Jr.; pianist David Benoit, keyboardist Brian Simpson, bassists Freddie Washington and Roberto Vally, percussionist Lenny Castro, and drummers Gorden Campbell and Michael White.
“I truly have the best friends in life that always are there to support me. ‘You’ve Got A Friend’ represents why I am able to do what I do. I hope this record will touch people emotionally. My approach to playing has always been about expressing feeling and emotion and drawing the listener in so that they forget all the stress in their lives. I hope it renews their spirit, so they can continue to be happy and express love. When I perform live, my biggest gratification is when I feel that I have uplifted people emotionally and they can go home feeling good about themselves and life in general. That’s our gift as musicians and I am so blessed to be able to do what I do,” said Paulo.
The album also showcases Paulo’s touring band – a trio of Hawaiians comprised of Kimo Cornwell (keyboards), David Inamine (bass) and Fred Schreuders (guitar) along with drummers Land Richards and Sergio Gonzalez – which will take the stage with Paulo at SoCal hotspot Spaghettini on July 21 to celebrate the release of “Beautiful Day.”
Paulo’s professional career spans more than forty years, and includes gigs playing alongside R&B, pop and jazz headliners Al Jarreau, James Ingram, Patti Austin, Jeffrey Osborne, Kenny Loggins, Johnny Mathis, Bobby Caldwell and Rick Braun. He debuted as a solo artist in 1977 with the Japan-only release of “Tat’s in the Rainbow,” an album that highlighted Herbie Hancock on keyboards. Paulo continues his dual career as a solo artist and as a first-call session player-sideman. He also produces concerts and jazz festivals in Hawaii and in the long-time California resident’s home state. These days, Paulo tours frequently with Peter White, who plies his signature delicate acoustic guitar nuances in addition to contributing to the arrangement for “Beautiful Day’s” profound version of Sting’s “Fragile.” The saxman’s longest touring association was with Jarreau, with whom he shared the stage throughout the late crossover crooner’s glory days.
“I recorded ‘Your Song’ as a tribute to Al, who gave me my big break when he hired me for his touring band in 1983. We toured the world together for eleven years and he featured me on his ‘Live in London’ album. I used his arrangement of ‘Your Song’ and David Benoit delivered a heartfelt piano performance. I miss Al.”
Paulo’s “Beautiful Day” album contains the following songs:
“Beautiful Day” featuring Paul Brown
“Mr. Magic” featuring Paul Brown
“Back with the Funk” featuring Paul Jackson Jr.
“Your Song” featuring David Benoit
“Who You Gonna Call?”
“You’ve Got A Friend”
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1. You’ve been referred to as a legend since you were in you mid-20s. When you hear the title “legend,” who comes to mind?
“Legend” is a funny term to me. I don’t pay it any mind. Famous, happy, great, ego, confidence are all feelings. “Legendary” doesn’t really seem to have feelings wrapped around it.
I have heroes like Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Stan Getz and Charlie Parker. These are people I listened to when I was young.
2. You are undoubtedly one of the most accomplished bassists, prolific in jazz-fusion and jazz, and an inspiration for other musicians to emulate. As a young prodigy, who were your major musical influences?
My mother was a semi-professional opera singer and played a lot of classical music. My father really liked gospel. I was very fortunate in that music was always in my home growing up. My parents introduced me to all different styles of music and I have continued to listen to all types of music, new and old. I was not a person to get heavily into a particular genre.
When I started listening to the radio as a teenager, I loved Jimi Hendrix and the R&B music coming out of Motown. Someone gave me a John Coltrane album in my teens that I fell in love with. That motivated me to listen to artists like Miles Davis, Stan Getz and Charlie Parker. All are incredibly creative and innovative in their own way.
I began studying music around 12 or 13 years old. I first learned on the acoustic bass. I was blessed that the foundation of my career was a great musical education. My initial music education was very traditional and somewhat strict, but it gave me a strong base that I could build upon.
3. How was the transition fresh out of school from the Philadelphia Academy of Music to New York and into the company of musical bandleaders such as Stan Getz and Dexter Gordon?
I was very lucky in that when I came to New York to launch my career, I immediately landed jobs with famous bandleaders such as Horace Silver, Art Blakey, Dexter Gordon, Joe Henderson, Pharaoh Saunders, Gil Evans and Stan Getz among others. They were great role models, each in different ways. It was the best on-the-job training. One of the wonderful things about Jazz is the nurturing that takes place of young musicians by the masters. I now try and do this myself.
In Charlotte I’m going to be bringing along Beka Gochiashvili on acoustic piano, Mike Mitchell on drums, and Cameron Graves on keyboards. We’ve been playing together for the last few years. Beka is now about 19-years-old and Mike 20-years-old. They are already award-winning, extraordinary musicians. They are about the same age I was when I first started playing with some of the masters. Cameron has been around a bit longer and is a very talented musician.
4. Shortly thereafter, as a masterful jazz-fusion bassist, you had gold albums and were selling out shows as the headliner. Were you prepared for the success you were achieving by the age of 25?
My ultimate goal has always been to bring the bass out from the rhythm section to the front of the stage. I worked very hard to give the bass a distinctive voice and I could see the progress with each success. Playing in huge arenas was pretty heavy stuff and certainly different from my earlier jazz combo experiences, but, wow, what a great adventure. Specifically to answer your question, I don’t think anyone can really prepare for that kind of success and fame on a major scale.
Things were pretty different for a young musician 40 or 50 years ago. Probably the biggest thing is that we didn’t have the media scrutinization created by the Internet. I’m thankful I didn’t have to deal with that.
5. Throughout your illustrious career, Mr. Clarke, you’ve received countless accolades including 4 Grammy’s and are well established as a composer, producer, and film score composer, arranger, and conductor.
You had the honor of collaborating with some of the greatest artists in the world. The list–just to name a few–includes Jean Luc Ponty, Marcus Miller, Victor Wooten, Lenny White, and Larry Carlton.
Another one of those artists is Chick Corea. Together, you formed the electric jazz/fusion band Return To Forever. The band won a Grammy for Forever and recorded eight other successful albums. Describe what made that collaboration such a huge success.
Chick and I started playing together around 1970 with Stan Getz. Later we formed many different groups of which Return To Forever was one. A major one. It was great being able to spearhead a movement together. That movement was jazz-rock, jazz-fusion or just fusion…whatever one wants to call it.
One thing special about my relationship with Chick was that he was very encouraging about me writing my own compositions. I had never been challenged in that area before. Composing has become essential to my career.
On the whole, Return to Forever was like a traveling university. At the time the record companies didn’t know what the hell we were doing, but people were coming out to see the shows and we were selling records. Basically, we were as loud as rock bands, but we brought technique to it. It was a great time. We were experimenting with new concepts of uniting those genres. Fusion of jazz and rock was somewhat of an “exposure gateway” of the time. Fans of rock were exposed to jazz and jazz fans were exposed to rock. It gave listeners an appetite for discovery. It still does.
I think it’s interesting that jazz-fusion or jazz-rock has been assimilated into so many genres of music now. I hear it in Gospel, Rock, Pop, Country and more.
6. You also had tremendous success working with the late George Duke. You were known as the Clarke/Duke Project in 1981. You two recorded three albums and toured together in 2006, 2012, and 2013, actually, up until Mr. Duke passed. What was the highlight of working with George over the years?
Probably the best connection I’ve had on stage and off is with George. I loved George as a brother and had the highest respect for him as a man and a musician. I feel forever fortunate to have had him as a friend for more than forty years. The most fun I had touring was with George because we had such a good time together. So often on a tour the comedy doesn’t live up to the music. In our case it did. George left a huge footprint in our industry. He was a light, bright star with a certain unique skill set.
I always admired George’s sophisticated musicality. Few have the ability to walk through so many different genres as he did…R&B, Jazz, Pop, Rock, and Classical. He knew all well and didn’t have any weaknesses. Incredibly, he understood how to weave these all together. I strive for that myself.
In homage to George, I dedicated my last album, UP to him and made a conscious decision to include his music in every show and project this year.
7. In 2014, you produced The Stanley Clarke Band: UP which received a NAACP Image Award nomination for Best Jazz Album in 2015, and the song Last Train To Sanity was nominated for a Grammy in 2015 for Best Jazz Arrangement Instrumental or A Cappella. How was UP different from other projects?
UP is the most energetic, fun, rhythmic and upbeat album that I have ever done. My goal was to make a record with my personal friends. The entire album concept was experimentation. I wanted the creative process to be as effortless as possible.
Everyone came prepared and ready to play. All are fantastic musicians and there was an ease and naturalness to our sessions, especially considering the various genres everyone came from. The talent ranged from the great Michael Jackson session rhythm section of John Robinson, Paul Jackson, Jr. and Greg Phillinganes to my friends from rock like Stewart Copeland and Joe Walsh to my newer friends from the more classical Harlem String Quartet as well as so many more. They came to the studio to give everything they had and it was a creative process that I am grateful to have experienced.
8. Your own record label Roxboro Entertainment was formed in 2010. Aside from your own projects, it’s also home to other musicians as well as projects geared towards education in music. Has this been a goal of yours since the beginning of your career?
Not really. The music “business” is a whole different industry from when I started out. Then, major record companies ruled. Now we’re all trying to find our place. Access to new technology and the Internet has changed almost everything.
I launched Roxboro Entertainment Group in 2010. My business model includes music publishing for my own and other musicians’ work, as well as the development of various projects aimed at music education.
I chose a selection of artists whose work I personally liked, but had not had a lot of recording exposure. So far the roster includes guitarist Lloyd Gregory, multi-instrumentalist Kennard Ramsey, keyboardist Sunnie Paxson, Ukrainian-born pianist, arranger and keyboardist Ruslan Sirota, jazz piano prodigy Beka Gochiashvili from Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia and most recently singer Natasha Agrama’s CD, The Heart of Infinite Change. Natasha is my daughter and I’m very proud of her work and accomplishments.
9. In addition to your success over the years as an accomplished artist creating music that will live forever and establishing a respectful legacy, you and your wife Sofia established The Stanley Clarke Foundation over a decade ago. What is the foundation’s main mission?
It’s very simple really. In 2002 my wife, Sophia, and I created The Stanley Clarke Foundation. So far, we’ve been able to offer a generous amount of scholarships to the Musician’s Institute in Los Angeles. One day I’d love it to expand to other regions. There is certainly the need.
The foundation is something near and dear to our hearts. We strongly believe that those who have reached success in realizing their own artistic vision have a duty to help others in their struggle to emerge. I’ve always believed that “talent” and not one’s socioeconomic background should be the basis of an individual’s chance to go on to create artistically.
10. On November 6th, 2015, D-STRINGZ, an acoustic project, was released featuring yourself, violinist Jean Luc-Ponty, and guitarist Bireli Lagrene. How would you describe this album, and what sets it apart?
D-Stringz is entirely acoustic–drumless. I think the album will make listeners rethink how to listen to some of their favorites like: Blue Train and Mercy Mercy Mercy. I’ve been very pleased that reviewers have been very positive and seem to get the point.
We first played together as a trio at a concert last year marking Jean-Luc’s 50th year as a professional and agreed to record together. It was a treat and a true collaboration. Jean-Luc and I had toured on and off for years, but Biréli Lagrène, who is also French, is much less well known to the jazz establishment. Bireli, a guitar virtuoso very popular in Europe, comes from the classic French mold of Django Reinhardt-laced gypsy swing. But, he’s also good at dancing around the fringes of soul, blues, flamenco, jazz and whatever else can be played on guitar. I think people here will enjoy getting introduced to him.
11. Aside from touring, Mr. Clarke, what does 2016 look like for you?
2016 looks like it will be a wonderful busy year. I’m going to be touring in Europe starting mid-February. Over a break in Europe I’m planning to record my next Stanley Clarke Band CD in Brussels.
I have a movie I scored coming out April 15th. It’s the next in the popular Barbershop franchise, Barbershop: The Next Cut. This one is directed by my old friend Malcolm D. Lee. I’ve done several movies with him, the last being Best Man’s Holiday. Barbershop: The Next Cut stars Ice Cube, Anthony Anderson, Common, Nicki Minaj and others.
I’m also working on a documentary about my career and have some other projects up my sleeve.
I always have things going. I love to keep busy
12. Finally, if you could have a super power, what would it be, and why?
To be able to be physically in more places than one at the same moment….
The reason is that I would be able to get more things done.
Groove therapy: contemporary jazz singer Carol Duboc keeps her diary open on “Colored Glasses”
Her seventh album, due September 18, is bolstered by collaborator Jeff Lorber’s R&B rhythms.
Los Angeles, California (30 July 2015): On Carol Duboc’s deeply personal 2013 release, “Smile,” the contemporary jazz singer-songwriter opened up in a way that she had never done so before, revealing the pain and heartache involved with dissolving her marriage while being the mother of a young daughter. She described writing the album with producer and jazz keyboards legend Jeff Lorber as therapeutic. Her therapy continues on “Colored Glasses,” a Gold Note Music ten-track disc written and produced by Duboc and Lorber set for release on September 18 and launched that evening with a Hollywood concert date that will be streamed online.
Two years on, Duboc’s new material details her struggles with cutting the ties of the relationship, one tinged by her partner’s delusional view of the world. Writing lyrics and melodies to rhythm tracks sent to her by Lorber, Duboc addresses the realities and realizations of moving forward with honesty and candor, even if she felt her ex was hiding the truth behind “colored glasses,” thus spawning the album’s title. But she acknowledges her own role as well.
“Some people refuse to see the world as it really is or life as it is, and to be honest, I was so caught up in the hypnotic love that I didn’t see things as they really are either,” admitted Duboc, who titled the first single “Hypnotic.” “I think this album is going to surprise people. It’s about letting go completely and moving on emotionally. And it may be the funkiest solo record I’ve ever made.”
Lorber’s R&B rhythms are lively throughout the soulful, sophisticated session of jazzy adult pop tunes. A marquee supporting cast brings high-caliber musicianship to the taut grooves with stellar performances by Jimmy Haslip (electric bass), Brian Bromberg (acoustic bass), Vinnie Colaiuta (drums), guitarists Paul Jackson, Jr. and Michael Thompson, Hubert Laws (flute), Eric Marienthal (sax), Lenny Castro (percussion) and multi-instrumentalist Lorber on keyboards, piano, bass and guitar. Dave Mann punches up several cuts with crisp horns and vivid horn arrangements that add vibrancy, lushness and depth.
“Hypnotic” will be serviced to radio next month coinciding with the release of a video lensed on Venice Beach for the album’s “Wavelength,” a danceable guitar and horn-driven song about intuitive communication between partners. To mark the album’s release and celebrate coming through the other side of the relationship, Duboc will perform at the famed jazz joint the Baked Potato on the release date (Sept. 18), which will be streamed live on her website (www.CarolDuboc.com). Lorber, Haslip and Thompson are among the musicians from the album’s lineup already confirmed to be backing the singer that night.
A native of Kansas City, Missouri, Duboc has been living in Los Angeles ever since she attended USC Thornton’s School of Music. Prior to launching her solo recording career in 2001with the critically-acclaimed “With All That I Am,” Duboc wrote hits on gold and platinum-selling albums, including records by Patti LaBelle, Chante Moore, Tom Jones, Stephanie Mills, Jade, Fine Yong Cannibals, Maurice White and the late George Duke. Possessing multimedia appeal, the photogenic blond had a supporting role on the silver screen in “Be Cool” alongside John Travolta, Uma Thurman and Danny DeVito.
The songs on “Colored Glasses” are:
“Every Shade of Blue”
“Walking in My Sleep”
Additional information is available at www.carolduboc.com.