What is your song writing process? Is it collaborative?
It is a collaborative effort. Everyone writes their own parts. We might start with a bass line or just some chords on the piano. We build the house from there.
How would you describe your music?
We don't lock ourselves into a style of music. We choose to play jazz and the style of jazz we play contains many elements from pop to blues. It comes down to how the arrangement is put together. I'm always looking for the same outcome... a good song.
In what direction would like to see Smooth Jazz head?
Smooth Jazz is the new frontier as far as categories go. It is indeed the vehicle we choose to affiliate our stlye of music with. The internet presents a backdrop for endless possibilities. I worked retail music for the past twenty years in a major market (Atlanta). As a district manager with nine stores in three states I have seen the changes in the industry up close. I have seen all the major labels empty their Jazz rosters to give way to unproven musical styles. I have had this conversation with the members of Fourplay and Norman Brown about how the industry has changed. All the change is not bad. The internet presents true free enterprise as long as you believe in your product you have a chance to be successful. Smooth Jazz is the heading that all those who once belong to those great labels fall under. That makes Smooth Jazz as powerful as Jazz has always been, you just have to look in different areas to find it.
What artist or artists have been influential to your careers?
With each project we try to move in a different direction. We are always trying to grow. With this project I was listening to AWB's Soul Searching. I think it is one of the best records from that period in the mid 1970s. The album itself is very raw, you almost feel as though you are in the studio with them. The make up the band uses on that project is similar to our line up. This made it easy to get across what I was looking for. Our horn section (Cedric Young, Kenny Faison and Ike Bell) had no problem getting the raw feel we were looking for. The rhythm section (B.D., Les Thompsom, Wallace Barner and Anthony Powell) we laid into the funk and created something new. The marriage of our style and the mood of that record created the new cd.
Are there any social causes that you have a special attachment to, and work to support?
I am looking for an organization that we may lend our support to in an effort to educate people on the dangers of tobacco. My mother has terminal cancer and my dad died the same way. I can remember as a child going to the store to get them a pack of smokes. I remember the pleasure the first puff would bring the both of them and how it would change the mood. It is still changing moods. MY mood, my sister's mood, my Aunt's mood and my entire family's mood. The smoke brings no pleasure anymore, only cancer that runs through my mother's bones like a river with no end. I'm not trying to bring anyone down but like the title of our cd, IT IS, WHAT IT IS If there is someone reading this interview that has connection with an organization that supports this cause you can email-me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will be more than happy to lend my support to your cause.
Is there a song you wish you would have written?
I grew up listening to American Top 40. Every Sunday at six o'clock on the dot I would be in front of the radio as if I were living in a time before there was TV. It opened me up to all styles of music not just the great soul music I would listen to all week. So many great songs I would have loved to have written. If I wrote something off, say James Taylor's greatest hits or one of the Eagles greatest hits, me and my postman would be on first name basis. Everytime he stops he would be dropping off a check.