Welcome to the latest issue of Denis Poole’s Secret Garden, the page that offers a British perspective on all that’s good, and not so good, in the world of smooth jazz and classic soul.
White soul doesn’t come by everyday and when it does it tends to disappoint. However this is not the case with the latest project from Texas based MichauX (pronounced Mi-show). His soulful, funky, R&B sound that has been compared in vocal style to Maxwell, Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield, and The Isley Brothers delivers a mixture of modern R&B and funky 70’s soul on his interesting eleven track release, Just MichauX.
Backed by fourteen musicians from the Austin area the multi-talented MichauX produced, arranged, performed, recorded and mixed this debut album in his own professional project recording studio in Bastrop, TX. He also wrote most of the music. It was mastered by Tom Coyne at Sterling Studios New York, NY.
The album opens with the smooth soul ‘All I Need’. It has the same laid back yet compelling groove running through it that proves to be the hallmark of the entire collection and vocal inflections that immediately evoke the sound of Ronald Isley. Track #2, ‘Hey Girl / Hey Playa’ flirts with urban hip hop, has a rap intro and an anxious beat yet still manages to incorporate MichauX’s smooth vocals. The same relaxed yet infectious urban grooves are evident on track #3, ‘Anything’, and when we reach the next track we gather a true insight into the theme and the message of the entire recording.
Four of the eleven tracks, starting with ‘Toni’ and following on with ‘He Paid It All’, ‘Love You The Right Way’ and ‘Necessary Truth’ are all overtly religious songs and it will remain to be seen if this aspect of MichauX’s music alienates him to the extent that he is prevented from making the true commercial breakthrough that his sound deserves. His own promotional material makes a solid stand on this describing him as ‘taking a very honest approach to songwriting and tackling tough issues that face our generation.’ It goes on to say that ‘the music carries a positive message in a language that anyone can relate to. He connects with today’s generation in a very personal way, sharing his own life experience and how he overcame many obstacles. He boldly presses forward unafraid to disturb the ‘sacred cows’ of mixing traditionally spiritual messages with a decidedly ‘secular’ medium, claiming the necessity to reach those who would otherwise not hear this message.’
When asked where his inspiration comes from he says, ‘what motivates me is working with ‘at risk’ youth. I want to bring them a positive message of hope that will help keep them in school, away from drugs and a life of crime. Knowing their lives are being affected by the message in the music is the highest achievement. In this post 9/11 age, we are focusing more on spiritual growth, an introspective look at our lifestyle, and what is truly important. The record stimulates this kind of thinking. We need much more than the shallowness of ‘booty shaking’ R&B but we still want to feel the rhythm, to love, move, and be stirred by the soul of great music. You can also sing about love without being obscene or trashy. It is a beautiful thing between married couples who love each other unconditionally.’
MichauX was the Director of Sound at Bastrop Christian Outreach Center, the largest church in Bastrop County, and served as a worship leader for Sunday morning services and special events. Since the beginning of 2002 he has been a volunteer Chaplain for the Texas Youth Commission, a State Juvenile Corrections Agency. He has used this position to set up a powerful halfway house ministry for teenage young men through weekly bible studies and monthly musical concerts with various Christian artists. He also gives the youth a chance to show their skills by hosting freestyle rap contests.
Potential listeners should not be turned off by the religious positioning of much of the recording. After all it worked for the Staple Singers. The vibe is compelling throughout and with track #8 ‘Resti 2 tion’ he works in a great piece of funk and R & B. In fact MichauX reprises this with track #10, ‘Payment’, that revisits the riff threaded through ‘Resti 2 tion’ and, with the exception of a cool background vocal, turns it into a nice play out instrumental.
MichauX states his ultimate goal is to work full time with youth in halfway houses and prisons all over the world. He cites the quantity of negative music and images that bombards our youth today as a driver for him to provide an alternative positive message. This being the case he may well have some tough decisions coming up. He has already caught the eye of promoter, Malika Smith, of Club Praize Magazine who sent him to perform for ‘Showtime at the Apollo’ in New York City. This in turn led to the chance to open for award wining Gospel group, Trin-i-tee 5:7. If, the beat, pace, and rhythm of the music that MichauX has created with Just MichauX begins to take off then his career could well be moving in a whole new direction.
Do you have any comments on what you have found in this months Secret Garden? Do you have a favorite Smooth Soul Survivor that you would enjoy being featured in a future edition? If so please contact the Smooth Jazz Vibes Guest Book or e-mail me on DenisPoole2000@Yahoo.com.Posted by Denis Poole at January 10, 2005 9:45 AM