Third album from the critically-acclaimed alto flutist hits record stores
One of the coolest things to come out of the 1970’s was groove-heavy jazz-funk. Alto flutist Bradley Leighton fondly recalls the halcyon days of bellbottoms, platform shoes, fur coats, big hats and lots of gold jewelry on Back to the Funk, which was released yesterday by Pacific Coast Jazz. Leighton’s third album features booty-bumping funk, seductive R&B, chill jazz nuances, and lilting pop hooks produced by Allan Phillips. Presently collecting adds at radio is “Runaway,” a driving feel-good joint boasting a full horn section and a fiery exchange between Leighton’s scorching alto flute and a sweaty, bellowing sax.
Having previously released two critically-acclaimed albums that delved into straight-ahead jazz with occasional splashes of Latin rhythms or R&B grooves, Leighton wanted to fully indulge his love of jazz-funk. He co-penned five tracks for Back to the Funk that reveal some of his musical influences: the Brecker Brothers, Earth, Wind & Fire, and Tower of Power. Leighton also set out to prove that in the contemporary jazz world dominated by guitars and saxes, the flute can also be soulful and funky. Real guitar, piano, bass, drums, sax, trumpet and trombone give the production an organic sound. Leighton’s alto flute gracefully leaps above the muscular horn arrangements and rhythmic R&B base to deliver eloquent jazz-pop statements. In addition to the original material, the artist covers three classics: Stevie Wonder’s “Love Light In Flight,” Ray, Goodman & Brown’s “Special Lady” and Bread’s “Make It With You.”
Although the album was just released, the critics are already taking notice. L.A. Jazz Scene wrote, “Mesmerizing backbeats, programmed drum rhythms, wah-wah synthesizers and flowing horn melodies weave with the leader's deep-throated alto flute for a significantly vibrant effect. Leighton's horn section works well with him in a spot-on performance that features expertly synchronized melodic lines…These songs carry powerful memories, and Leighton's soulful flute brings them around clearly…it succeeds in reminding us that music remains the lifeblood of what inspires us every day.” Smoothjazz.com enthused, “The album’s a knockout, and should do extremely well for the talented artist. This Seattle native, in San Diego since 2001, once again shows us why jazz flute is one of the most sensual instruments around…Bradley Leighton’s Back to the Funk is loaded with inventive, inspired playing…”
During the month of February, “Runaway” will be heard in select movie theatre chains across the U.S., including United Artists, Regal, Edwards and Hoyt. Plans are underway for Leighton to mark the album release with intimate club performances with his band in Renton, Washington and in San Diego, California. Last week, he participated at the International Association of Jazz Education conference in New York City.
Leighton debuted in 2003 with a collection of jazz standards on the Groove Yard CD. Last year’s Just Doin’ Our Thang straddles the line between traditional and contemporary jazz. It consists of fresh interpretations of standards along with four original compositions that find Leighton backed by a Hammond B3 organ trio. The album has been hailed by such respected outlets as JazzTimes, Audiophile, All About Jazz, All Music Guide, and the San Diego Reader and was nominated for “Best Jazz Album of the Year” by the San Diego Music Awards.
Pacific Coast Jazz is distributed in the U.S. by Big Daddy Music and in the United Kingdom by The Woods. Additional information about Leighton can be found at www.fluteguy.com.