When you think of that certain style of classic jazz guitar that is smooth, soulful, melodic, flowing and immediately likeable, you think of names like Wes Montgomery, Barney Kessel, George Benson, Kenny Burrell, Earl Klugh and Larry Carlton. Now Lloyd Gregory has taken his place on that list of illustrious jazz guitarists. On his fourth album, Free Fallin', Gregory tips his hat to those who influenced him while carving out his own distinctive style that also includes hints of his R&B roots.
"Music is comprised of traditions, even when mixed with innovations," Gregory says, "so, of course, every musician is building upon sounds that came before. I admire and respect those jazz guitarists and I learned a lot from them. But my influences also include early soul innovators like Curtis Mayfield, many of the guitarists in the various Motown artist's bands, and Ike Turner. Going even further, I have been inspired by rock'n'rollers from Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley through Hendrix to Eddie Van Halen. And on the other end of the spectrum I have been influenced by acoustic players who bridged between jazz, Latin and classical like Django Reinhardt, Bola Sete, Andres Segovia and Manitas de Plata. Even so, I never sat down and simply learned other guitarists' solos off their albums. Instead, I studied and absorbed their styles in a more general sense."
Lloyd Gregory, a popular entertainer on the San Francisco/Bay Area music scene for several decades, has an instrumental sound that may be the epitomy of smooth, but it also contains subtle elements of classic soul music due to his early career as an R&B performer, especially the years he spent touring extensively while serving as the musical director for The Ballads, Natural Four and Jesse James, and performing on their albums.
Gregory also has recorded with Martha Reeves, MC Smoothe and Freddie Stewart (Sly & The Family Stone); and has performed onstage with Rodney Franklin, Stanley Clarke, George Duke, Gerald Albright, Lenny Williams (Tower of Power), Freda Payne, The Dells, and Lowell Fulsom.
Lloyd's albums show his versatility. His debut album Wonderful -- which received heavy airplay nationwide and climbed the jazz charts in the top music industry radio publications Radio & Records and The Gavin Report -- featured contemporary jazz with some R&B and funk elements. Only For You continued in that vein with some tunes featuring his acoustic guitar playing and others showcasing Gregory on a solid-body electric. His third album was a change of pace as the title, Solo Guitar, indicates. The CD features Lloyd alone on acoustic playing standards like "Sophisticated Lady" and "Ain't Misbehavin" for audiences that have come to know that side of him from his solo concerts. But Gregory most often performs live with an ensemble, and many of those musicians make appearances on his new Free Fallin' disc (on the Integy Entertainment label). However, on the album Lloyd primarily plays his Ovation Custom Legend round-back acoustic guitar while at concerts with his band he likes to rock a bit harder and usually he plays a Yamaha electric.
Free Fallin' is available in stores and at www.integyentertainment.com. More information on Lloyd is available at his website (www.lloydgregorymusic.com).
Free Fallin' features a dozen tunes, mostly originals, plus covers of Thelonious Monk's jazz standard "'Round Midnight" and George Gershwin's "I Love You Porgy." The material ranges from the rapid percussive sound of "Kermudgen" (which also includes a flute solo) to the beautiful ballad "Snow Bear." "Steve's House," one of the few tracks with Lloyd playing both acoustic and electric guitar, was written in Stevie Wonder's living room.
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Musicians on the album include bassist Eric Smith (Destiny's Child), bassist Gary Calvin (Jean-Luc Ponty, Jeff Lorber), drummer Billy Johnson (Santana, Frankie Beverly & Maze), drummer Ritchie Aguan (The Whispers), multi-instrumentalist Felton Pilate (MC Hammer, Con Funk Shun), pianist Glenn Pearson (Boys Choir of Harlem), keyboardist Percy Scott (The Whispers), flutist Roger Glenn (Mongo Santamaria) and other top Bay Area players.
Gregory grew up in Cleveland with music a major part of his life -- at home (his mother played piano and Lloyd started at age five), at church (his grandfather was a minister) and at school (Lloyd played trombone, drums and cello -- the latter from elementary school through high school). Gregory began learning guitar at age 10, and through high school played guitar and piano in a R&B band covering James Brown, Curtis Mayfield and The Temptations. Lloyd's senior year he moved to Berkeley, California, and put together a band called The Aztecs (Sly Stone joined them onstage one time). The band won a talent contest where Gregory was spotted by the manager of The Ballads, who got Lloyd in the musician's union and made him the vocal group's musical director for several national tours playing on the same bills with Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, The Four Tops, Stevie Wonder, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight & The Pips and many others.
This early experience taught Gregory how to be a band leader and it led to tours with other R&B acts. At one point he paid the rent by playing in San Francisco strip clubs with former members of Santana. He also did a USO tour of Japan, and toured with Mary McCrary (Edwin Hawkins Singers, New Generation), Maxine Howard, Shirley Jones (Diana Ross) and jazz-poet Oscar Brown, Jr. Over the years Gregory and his band have been joined on-stage by artists such as Bernard Purdie (James Brown, Aretha Franklin, George Benson) and Gaylord Birch (Graham Central Station, Pointer Sisters). As a studio musician in Los Angeles, Gregory worked with producer Richard Perry and played sessions with top musicians such as Klaus Voorman (The Beatles), Arthur Adams (B.B. King, Quincy Jones), Harvey Mason (Herbie Hancock, George Benson) and Joe Sample (The Crusaders). Also as a session player Lloyd played on a Latin-jazz album by The Funky Aztecs.
Gregory has played on several albums by upcoming blues artists including Zakiy a Hooker (John Lee's daughter), Sugarpie Desanto and Maxine Howard. In addition, Gregory studied under Warren Nunes and took Masters Class Seminars from Barney Kessel and Howard Roberts. On Gregory's first two albums he had musical guests that included Felton Pilate, Rodney Franklin, harmonica player Norton Buffalo (Steve Miller) and top session percussionist Ken Nash. When Lloyd tackled his acoustic Solo Guitar album, he found inspiration in the music of Bola Sete, Christopher Parkening and Juan Sereno. Other influences through the years have included Al Dimeola, John McLaughlin, Mel Brown, Oscar Peterson, Lester Young, Chet Atkins and Stanley Clarke.
Gregory has studied and taught martial arts (Tae Kwon Do -- the Korean system of Karate) for more than 20 years. He has studied under master Byong Yu and attained a Second Degree Black Belt. "Through martial arts I learned to first start with the physical training, then the mental training and finally the spiritual training. This led me to an on-going period of spiritual exploration and meditation. At the same time I have studied certain aspects of music including harmonic structure, rhythms, arranging and especially the vibrations of sound, and how all of this is linked to the body and to the spirit."
Most of the arrangements on Free Fallin' were created in the studio as a result of the input and interplay of the musicians on each tune. "I only give the band the basic structure of the piece, just enough of a roadmap to get started, because I want them to each be creative themselves. We take the seed, water it and allow it to grow. We nurture the music with love. Hopefully each listener feels what went into the music and can take some of that away with them."
SOUL-JAZZ GUITARIST PAUL JACKSON JR. TO SHARE HIS INTIMATE "STILL SMALL VOICE" ON MAY 20th
Blue Note artist's sixth album will be prefaced by "It's A Shame"
On May 20th, Blue Note will release the sixth solo album from soul-jazz guitarist Paul Jackson Jr. entitled Still Small Voice. Prelude to the album release will be the first radio single, a bright and snappy version of The Spinners' classic, "It's A Shame," featuring the Earth, Wind & Fire horn section (Gary Bias, Ray Brown and Reggie Young), which will go for adds at smooth jazz radio on April 21. Jackson Jr. had a hand in the writing and production of eleven songs for the album. To help bring the compositions to life, he was joined in the studio by a stellar supporting cast including Gerald Albright, Brian Culbertson, Sheila E., Jeff Lorber, Harvey Mason, Billy Preston, and Patrice Rushen. The album, which stylistically contains elements of R&B, jazz, soul, pop, and gospel, sounds like the well-deserved breakthrough collection that the highly in-demand sideman has had waiting to emerge for years.
Ever since the late 70's, Jackson Jr. has been recording and/or touring with the icons of popular music including Michael Jackson, Madonna, Celine Dion, Destiny's Child, Quincy Jones, Mary J. Blige, Elton John, Whitney Houston, Barbra Streisand, Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, Luther Vandross, and Brian McKnight (Jackson Jr. closes the new album with a soulful version of McKnight's hit "Back At One"). Spiritual and inspired, Jackson Jr. relishes recording his own albums because it allows him the opportunity to explore his own musical expression as a writer and producer, not just as an ace guitarslinger. Still Small Voice is a different type of album for the Grammy nominee.
"This record speaks to me differently," said Jackson Jr. "Musically it's got more of a raw, organic feel and I took more chances on this one. For instance, I never recorded a song where I played acoustic guitar like I did on ?Dios Te Bendiga.' Many people I respect have said that perhaps it is my best album yet. I dug deeper creatively and explored new directions. Hopefully the album speaks to people like it speaks to me."
The songs on Paul Jackson Jr.'s Still Small Voice album are:
"Still Small Voice"
"Dios Te Bendiga"
"It's A Shame"
"Park Tour Intro"
"Back At One"
JAZZ-FUNK PIONEER JEFF LORBER RELEASES "PHILLY STYLE"
Keyboardist appears on "The Caroline Rhea Show," "Gigabyte" computing at radio
Seminal jazz-funk keyboardist Jeff Lorber released his sixteenth album today, his first for Narada Jazz. Philly Style captures the multihued sounds of Lorber's hometown of Philadelphia through compositions that are funky, jazzy, soulful, cosmopolitan, colorful, uplifting, soothing, intimate and lyrical without words, much like the historical city itself. Lorber launched the album release by performing on today's "The Caroline Rhea Show," which was televised nationally. The first radio single from the collection, "Gigabyte," continues to be amongst the most added tracks at smooth jazz radio and appears headed to the top of the charts.
Lorber produced Philly Style along with fellow Philadelphian Steve Dubin (Peter White, Richard Elliot), composed or co-wrote nine songs and recorded a cover version of hip hop outfit The Goodie Mob's "Soul Food." A meticulous orchestrater, Lorber filled the tracks up with the guitars of Tony Maiden (guitarist from Rufus), the bumping bass of Alex Al, the beats of drummer and Philadelphian "Little John" Roberts, the rhythmic swatches of Lenny Castro (percussion), and a robust, warm horn section lead by Jerry Hay. Sax aces Richard Elliot and Gary Meek make guest appearances. In addition to "Gigabyte," other standout cuts include the album opener "Under Wraps"; the urbane energizer "Philly Style"; the sophisticated sweetness of "Laissez Faire"; the aggressive, go for broke "Step On It"; the gentle and beautiful "When She Smiles"; and a fusionistic journey to "Serpentine Lane."
In the mid- to late 1970s, Lorber helped pioneer a contemporary sound that was all about the groove. It was jazzy R&B or funky jazz. When he first came upon the scene, Lorber fronted a band that topped the charts numerous times. Over the course of fifteen albums, the Grammy-nominated artist has risen to prominence as a bandleader, solo artist, musician, producer, songwriter and arranger. He's played with the finest artists in popular music and is mentioned alongside the likes of Grover Washington Jr., Herbie Hancock and George Duke in terms of the influence he had in forging and shaping a musical genre. Classically trained, Lorber's piano and keyboards voice is genre defying; his compositions have landed on the jazz, R&B/hip hop, pop and dance charts. Since launching his solo career in 1991, he has had three Top 10 albums (one went all the way to #1) and his last album spawned two #1 singles. Longevity and consistency are as much a part of Lorber's legacy as is his audacious approach to jazz and R&B.
Look for Lorber to hit the concert trail with his band in the coming months.
Good Morning Everyone!
Welcome to the 2003 Seabreeze Jazz Festival at Historic Grayton Beach, FL. Here is a link you can use to listen to our live audio stream.
1. Open Windows Media Player
2. File>Open URL
3. type in http://126.96.36.199:8080
Internationally renowned Dutch saxophonist, Candy Dulfer tops off a remarkable year with the release of her most definitive CD to date - Right In My Soul on Eagle Records.
In early 2002, Dulfer joined Prince for his critically acclaimed One Nite Alone Tour in the US (and later Europe), playing to packed venues across the States next to friend and hero Maceo Parker. Prince's renowned after-shows meant that Candy was able to jam with such artists as Alicia Keys, Sheila E., George Clinton and Musiq Soulchild. In among her Prince dates, Dulfer was able to perform with two other long-term collaborators, Dave Stewart and Van Morrison.
Then, in the summer of 2002, with the help of her new label - Eagle Records - Candy was given total creative freedom to create the CD of her dreams, giving her the opportunity to push the boundaries with her seamless fusion of R&B, Drum 'n Bass, Funk, Jazz and Ambient sounds. With the help of producers Jon Kingsley Hall and George Stewart, the CD was recorded both in London and Amsterdam. Right In My Soul marks Dulfer's first studio album in four years.
With uncanny technical and interpretative skill, Dulfer's saxophone playing is the perfect foil for her voice (in a way that has probably only been heard in the likes of Chet Baker and George Benson), and on Right In My Soul is once again a perfect example of why Candy is in such demand by such exulted company. All the trademark riffs, solos and harmonies are there contemporized to fit in with the new Candy Dulfer but still instantly recognizable to her legions of fans.
No less breathtaking than the CD's arrangements are Candy's vocals. With influences as far afield as current R&B divas Erykah Badu, lady of soul Chaka Khan and the lyrical style of her musical friend Van Morrison, Candy's recently elevated vocal talent was shaped by a large helping of Prince as well her own saxophone style.
Artist - Candy Dulfer
Title - Right In My Soul - ER 20009-2 CD
Release Date: 05.20.2003
Label - Eagle Records