Well-received album released today salutes the artist’s musical influences and hometown while showcasing his skills as a soloist
Demonstrating that one can be inspired to greatness by simply returning to their roots, contemporary jazz saxophonist Steve Cole released his fifth album, True, today from Narada Jazz/Blue Note Label Group. Cole produced the collection and composed or co-wrote the nine new R&B, jazz, funk, dance and pop songs that comprise the disc.
Through his previous albums, Cole established himself as a core artist in contemporary jazz. His consistency as a songwriter and producer also merits recognition and respect as he’s scored four #1 radio hits and ten Top 5 singles since his 1998 debut. True promises to add to Cole’s impressive accomplishments.
The album title refers to a return to innocence, a return to the music that inspired Cole to explore his passion for jazz-funk made popular by artists such as Eddie Harris, Grover Washington, Jr., David Sanborn, Junior Walker and George Benson. It was an era of well-crafted songs, live production and expressive music that emerged from the core of the artists’ being. Those were the ingredients Cole used to create True. He pushed himself to reach new heights delivering unadulterated artistry and organic musicianship. He was inspired by the music that emerged from his hometown of Chicago where he still resides. On the album, Cole salutes seminal Chicago pioneers such as jazz-funk legend Quincy Jones and soul icon Curtis Mayfield along with clubby house music, which emerged from the Chicago underground. But broadening his saxwork and improvising were equally important objectives for Cole on True. He sought to produce the record as “live” as possible, fostering the setting for expansive soloing. A talented cast of musicians helped make True a reality, including Jeff Golub, Steve Rodby, David Mann, Ricky Peterson, Lenny Castro and Khari Parker.
Last month, the house music-inspired cut “Metro,” boasting an extended sax solo that’s both expressive and functional, was serviced to smooth jazz radio stations where it is presently garnering airplay. The early reaction to the album from music critics has been enthusiastic. All Music Guide said, “If the title of this superior collection is indicative of the true persona that's here to stay, then genre fans will be in for a powerful adventure… Cole has scored many hits while on the road to finding his true voice, and with any luck, he'll stay right there as the perfect antidote to his less imaginative contemporaries.” JazzReview wrote, “In this watershed album, Cole lets down his hair and goes for it, showing his talent in featured solos-- blending textures, melodies and awesome extremes… Cole states, ‘A lot of the substance of a player is evident once they get off the melody and start improvising.’ That’s exactly what Cole does on True, adding fresh notes, compelling hooks and smooth grooves.”
Concert dates to support True are being scheduled for early next year. For more information, please visit www.stevecole.net. To hear tracks from True, click www.bluenote.com/stevecole.