Interviews

THE RUSHEN IS COMING: SJF TALKS TO LEGENDARY JAZZ-FUNK DOYENNE PATRICE RUSHEN

Friday, 04 May 2012 16:30 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

PartriceRushen_AuthorizedHI_ResStandingWhen PATRICE RUSHEN issued her first major label album, 'Patrice,' for Elektra in 1978 there was nobody around who was quite like her: not only did she sing but she also played some mean funked-up jazz piano, and if that wasn't enough, she also composed, arranged and produced her own music too. So, to describe her merely as talented was nothing less than a major understatement.

Successive Elektra albums - 'Pizzazz' (1979) and 'Posh' (1980) – steadily helped to accrue Patrice an army of devotees while at the same time building up a creative momentum that culminated with 1982's global breakthrough LP, 'Straight To The Heart,' whose success was hastened by an infectious and much sampled - dance floor hit, 'Forget Me Nots.' It was a Top 10 smash in the UK, a place where the Californian singer and pianist has long enjoyed a faithful following. That faith is being repaid by a rare UK visit by Patrice, who appears at the Southport Weekender on May 12th in a gig billed as 'Patrice Rushen & Friends' – the 'friends' being bassist 'Ready' Freddie Washington, guitarist Doc Powell, saxophonist Everette Harp and drummer Leon 'Ndugu' Chancler. Two days later, on May 14th Patrice can also be heard at Ronnie Scott's playing in a duo configuration entitled '1+ One' alongside drummer/vibraphonist Ndugu Chancler for a two-night stint at the legendary London jazz venue.

In preparation for her short English sojourn, Patrice – who more recently has been scoring soundtracks for movies and TV shows - talked exclusively and at length to SJF's Charles Waring. In the first part of what will be a three-part interview feature, she talks about her imminent UK visit as well as discussing her role in music education (she's a college professor no less). In addition, she provides keenly anticipated news of her current studio activities...

 

 

THE BEATLES AND ME – Roberta Flack talks exclusively to SJF about her new album, ‘Let It Be, Roberta.’

Wednesday, 25 April 2012 10:47 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

Roberta_new_albumRoberta Flack has a voice that can stop you in your tracks – quite literally. Don't believe me? Just ask legendary Hollywood actor and film director, Clint Eastwood. According to the former school teacher-turned-singer, in the early '70s he was driving down the LA freeway when he heard her haunting and indelible rendering of Ewan McColl's 'The First Time I Saw Your Face' on the radio. He told Flack that he was so overcome with emotion that he almost had to pull over on the side of the road. Not long afterwards, of course, he used the song on the soundtrack to his 1971 blockbuster thriller 'Play Misty For Me' and that helped catapult Roberta Flack to international fame.

A welter of chart smashes followed for the North Carolina-born singer in that decade, both solo (such as '73's 'Killing Me Softly With His Song') and in tandem with her duet partner, Donny Hathaway ('72's 'Where Is The Love' and '77's 'The Closer I Get To You' were both US chart toppers for the pair). She picked up a Grammy, too, along the way and continued to evolve as a performer and recording artist as the '70s led into the 1980s. More recently, however, Ms. Flack's new studio recordings have been few and far between but now, some nine years after her last release (the Christmas album, 'Holiday') she has unveiled a new, freshly-minted, long player. In essence it's a homage to Liverpool's 'Fab Four,' The Beatles, and finds the veteran performer putting her own distinctive take on the songs of not only John Lennon and Paul McCartney but also George Harrison too. SJF's Charles Waring recently spoke to Roberta about her new studio project and other aspects of her long and successful career...

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 April 2012 11:25

 

A NIGHT IN NEW YORK

Friday, 20 April 2012 06:08 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

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Up-and-coming Big Apple-based English jazz chanteuse, SALLY NIGHT, talks to SJF about her new album, 'Love For Sale.'

In the jazz world, singers are traditionally judged on their ability to interpret what are called 'standards,' those enduring and immortal songs that comprise the so-called 'Great American Songbook' and whose authors include such illustrious tunesmiths as Rodgers & Hart, Cole Porter, the Gershwin brothers, Jerome Kern, and Jimmy Van Heusen. Those writers and their songs are to jazz what Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms are to classical music: essential and sacred masterworks of the idiom.

But while jazz standards and how they are interpreted can help distinguish an ordinary singer from a very good one, they can also seem to some people as dull, restrictive, and formulaic. It's true that songs like Cole Porter's 'Love For Sale' for example – which has been recorded by everyone from jazz icons Ella Fitzgerald and Tony Bennett to pop acts Simply Red and Elvis Costello – have been done to death but they undoubtedly have an evergreen quality about them: the lyrics never lose their relevance and the melodies are timeless in their appeal. And every so often, a singer comes along who puts a fresh new spin on old standards and makes then sound like they were written only recently – such a singer is SALLY NIGHT, an expatriate Brit who relocated to New York to further her career as a jazz singer.

Following a promising debut CD, 2007's 'Phases Of Love,' Ms. Night returns with an impressive sophomore album, 'Love For Sale,' for the Japanese Venus label. Comprising 17 tracks, it was recorded in NYC's Avatar studios and finds the singer tackling such classics as 'Black Coffee,' 'The Lady Is A Tramp,' 'Embraceable You' and many others. It also features an original composition, 'Why Don't You Meet Me Downtown,' as well as a bossa nova medley. SJF's Charles Waring recently caught up with the singer, who talks in depth about 'Love For Sale' as well as her influences and describes what life is like for a singer in the jazz capital of the world...

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 May 2012 07:53

 

RON’S RECIPE FOR LOVE... THE INTERVIEW

Sunday, 11 March 2012 19:13 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

ronSweet soul stylist RON TYSON has been a key part of the TEMPTATIONS for 27 years. His distinctive falsetto is an integral part of the group's sound, but just as the TEMPTS embark on their annual tour of Europe and the UK, RON has launched a solo album – 'Recipe For Love'. It's not the genial Mr T's first solo album. A couple of years back he tried his hand at a Christmas set but 'Recipe' is his first "proper" solo soul collection. Before RON left for Europe with the "Emperors Of Soul", SJF caught up with him to find out more. We began by wondering why someone known as a team player (THE ETHICS, LOVE COMMITTEE and THE TEMPTATIONS) has suddenly decided to go down the solo road....

Simple really - I just wanted to do a little side project. I'm always writing songs and music is in my blood. It's always special to do what you love to do. No departure from the group. My first obligation is to the group. My solo projects are done in my free time. I'm looking forward to doing several more CDs.

Tell us how 'Recipe For Love' came together.... and why bring PRESTON GLASS in as producer?

Aside from PRESTON GLASS being a producer he has become a very good friend. We were introduced by a mutual friend who saw us as guys who could possibly write songs together. We met and we clicked musically. Once we became acquainted with one another, we started working and writing together, one or two songs lead to three or four...Before we knew it, we had completed a RON TYSON CD and the rest is history.... Now we have a partnership and a record label and we look forward to seeing what the future holds for us.

Last Updated on Monday, 12 March 2012 22:17

 

TUNIN’ IN TO ‘BLACK RADIO’ WITH THE ROBERT GLASPER EXPERIMENT

Monday, 27 February 2012 08:03 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

robertglasper2AG275Some listeners know him as an up-and-coming New York-based jazz pianist but on his third Blue Note CD, 2010's critically-lauded 'Double Booked' Robert Glasper demonstrated his versatility by devoting the second half of the album to exploring state-of-the-art contemporary urban music. Now, in 2012, the genial, laid-back, keyboard maestro is back with his fourth Blue Note long player, an impressive opus called 'Black Radio,' which represents his first full-length foray into the realms of R&B and hip-hop.

Intended as a showcase for the keyboard player's Experiment band, 'Black Radio' is a glistening, star-studded affair, featuring substantial contributions from singers Erykah Badu, Lalah Hathaway, Bilal, Ledisi, Musiq Soulchild and Mint Condition's front man, Stokley Williams, as well as cameos from rappers Mos Def, Lupe Fiasco and Shafiq Husayn. Glasper's choice of material, too, reflects his wide and eclectic taste; ranging from Mongo Santamaria's jazz standard 'Afro Blue' (beautifully rendered by a superb Glasper arrangement that spotlights the wispy vocals of Erykah Badu) to a lush reading of Sade's 'Cherish The Day (with Lalah Hathaway guesting) and jazzy R&B retoolings of rock classics (namely David Bowie's 'Letter To Hermione' and Nirvana's grunge anthem, 'Smells Like Teen Spirit'). It's unequivocally an album that shows Glasper's talent in a vastly different light. It might not please diehard jazz fans who were expecting another piano trio record but its accessibility will certainly deliver his music to another – and potentially younger and larger - audience.

Recently, Texas-born Glasper ventured to the UK for a handful of gigs and also to undertake some promotional work in aid of the new album. While he was here he talked at length to SJF's Charles Waring. Amiable, laidback and laughing a lot, he revealed how a few stiff drinks loosened him up in the studio to get the relaxed vibe he was seeking for 'Black Radio'...

 

 

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