Interviews

FAMILY VALUES… FDELUXE’S SUSANNAH MELVOIN TALKS TO SJF

Wednesday, 09 November 2011 14:28 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

fdeluxe_stairsRewind to 1985. Prince Rogers Nelson was on top of the world. The global success he had experienced as a result of his 1984 smash movie, 'Purple Rain,' and its platinum-selling, hit-packed soundtrack, led to the prolific Minneapolis genius spreading his creative wings – on the back of 'Purple Rain's' success he started his own Warner-distributed label, Paisley Park (located at his million dollar studio complex that boasted the same moniker), and when he wasn't making his records under his own name, he was busy providing the music for a welter of his musical protégés and various side projects.

One of the first signings to Paisley Park was The Family, a group that rose from the ashes of The Time (which had disbanded when lead singer Morris Day pursued a solo career). Comprising keyboardist Paul Peterson (aka St. Paul), drummer Jellybean Johnson and vocalist/dancer Jerome Benton from The Time, saxophonist Eric Leeds and Prince's then girlfriend Susannah Melvoin (the twin sister of Wendy Melvoin, who was the guitarist in Prince's band, The Revolution and went on to form the duo, Wendy & Lisa), The Family issued a couple of singles ('Screams Of Passion,' a Top 10 US R&B hit, and 'High Fashion') and a self-titled parent album, which was an alluring blend of pop, soul and funk that boasted dramatic orchestral charts by jazz pianist and Rufus arranger, Clare Fischer.

But just as they were about to take flight, St. Paul suddenly quit the group and The Family all but disintegrated. The remainder of the group went their separate ways but over the years, The Family's eponymous album gained a cult collectability (the original vinyl is almost impossible to find these days); a fact that is underscored by the album's failure to materialise on CD in the digital age.

But now SJF can confirm that rumours of The Family's reunion are not bogus – in fact, Susannah, St. Paul, Jellybean and Eric Leeds have reconvened and recorded an album together called 'Gaslight,' which has just been released. Not only that but the quartet has also started performing live (they recently played Joe's Pub in New York to a packed house). Sadly, though (and for reasons which are explained below), the group were obligated to change their moniker and are now known as fDeluxe. The group's co-lead singer, the lovely Susannah Melvoin (who also co-penned much of the album's material) recently talked at length to SJF's Charles Waring and shed light on one of the '80s most enigmatic and short-lived bands...

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 November 2011 20:07

 

PERCUSSIONIST EXTRAORDINAIRE - PONCHO SANCHEZ SPEAKS

Friday, 04 November 2011 17:13 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

Poncho_pic_1"Cal Tjader was the greatest guy in the world," remembers conga maestro Poncho Sanchez as his voice conveys a sense of deep affection and respect that's almost palpable. "He was a sweetheart of a guy and he could play so pretty, man. Nobody plays vibes like Cal Tjader."

Sanchez has good reason to hold Tjader in high esteem - the genial, bespectacled vibraphone maven, who was a key figure in developing Latin jazz in the '50s, '60s and '70s, gave percussionist, Sanchez, his first big break. That was back in 1975. Then just 24-years-old, Sanchez – whose specialty is playing the congas – joined Cal Tjader's band as a greenhorn and spent seven years touring and recording with the vibraphonist. It all came to an abrupt end when Tjader died suddenly of a heart attack on a tour of Manila in the Philippines in May 1982. He was just 56. But as a result of Tjader's mentorship and the experience he'd accrued in the recording studio and on the road, Sanchez formed his own band and has been successfully flying the flag for Latin jazz ever since. He won a Grammy in 1999 for his acclaimed album, 'Latin Soul,' and today in 2011 – having just notched up his 60th birthday on October 30th – he's just released a brand new album, 'Chano Y Dizzy,' which explores the roots of Latin jazz. The affable conguero recently talked to SJF's Charles Waring about his new project and also reminisced about his friendship with Dizzy Gillespie and recalled his formative years as an aspiring conga player...

 

Last Updated on Friday, 04 November 2011 17:28

 

UP CLOSE WITH LUCA: part 2...

Wednesday, 12 October 2011 08:57 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

lucaLUCA DIMOON is an Italian soul singer who's currently working on his second full album, 'Telescope'. Two cuts from the album have already been made available and are making waves on the underground soul scene. They are a moody, nu-soul reworking of the STYLISTICS' classic 'People Make The World Go Round' and 'Twilight' – an original song that has made critics make comparison with MAXWELL and D'ANGELO. We recently caught up with LUCA to try to find out what inspired a Milan-born singer to embrace the moods and mannerisms of modern American soul. First though we needed to know something about the man's background........

I was born and raised in Milan in an American neighborhood and my home was filled with many musical influences. Jazz music was always played and we had multiple instruments which helped me recognize the magic of music at a young age. Beginning at the age of six, I began bringing my walkman wherever I went and at the age of eight, I was singing along to the songs I was listening to. The director of my local church choir suggested to my mother that I join the choir. At twelve years old, I started to make my first recordings on cassette tapes. By the time I was sixteen, local DJs started showing interest in my tapes and this was when I was told to pursue singing as a profession. At first, I didn't really consider it because I was studying fine arts. A couple of years later, I moved to London to check out fine arts colleges and the UK music scene. After a few months of conflict between the two, I decided to give up fine arts and take the music path instead. This is when I wrote my first songs over instrumentals from different producers and it is also at this point that my live performances commenced. My father influenced me indirectly but deeply because I witnessed him painting, listening to jazz music and reading literature and his lifestyle proved that anyone can make a living simply by doing art. I absorbed these various influences and this is why art is all I have done for a living.

 

DIAMOND GEEZER part 2.....

Friday, 07 October 2011 09:43 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

jimdAs reported in both our news pages and reviews section, Scottish singer JIM DIAMOND has just released a brand new album – 'City Of Soul'. The set is a collection of some of JIM'S favourite soul songs and the covers give new insight into stuff like 'Since I Lost My Baby' and 'I'm Your Puppet'. More importantly however is the fact that all the money raised from the album will go to charity – more specifically SIR TOM HUNTER'S CASH FOR KIDS organization. With such a good cause benefiting we decided to find out more. Catching up with JIM, we asked him to tell us a little about CASH FOR KIDS ...

The CASH FOR KIDS CHARITY is one of Scotland's main charities for underprivileged children. To tell you the scope of the work it does would be almost impossible, but any child in Scotland who is in need for any reason will benefit from it. SIR TOM HUNTER, STV, and Radio Clyde in Glasgow are the main participants, and through them literally millions of pounds have been raised. I'm very proud to be even a very small part of it.

Last Updated on Friday, 07 October 2011 09:49

 

“CALL ME THE CHAMELEON” - HARVEY MASON SPEAKS

Thursday, 22 September 2011 20:20 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

harvey-mason4One of the most respected and prolific drummers in the neighbouring worlds of jazz, soul and funk music, New Jersey native HARVEY MASON (who was born and raised in Atlantic City) began his career forty years ago in the early 1970s.

He had a tough upbringing in an impoverished family but imbued with a strong work ethic he was fiercely determined, ambitious and aspired to self-improvement. A productive stint at college studying music led to Mason playing percussion, vibraphone and eventually drums in several jazz bands before his found his vocation - making a living as a session drummer on America's west coast. He played on Donald Byrd's seminal fusion bestseller for Blue Note, 'Black Byrd,' in 1972 and appeared on all the trumpeter's sessions helmed by the Mizell brothers, Larry and Fonce. In '74, he was asked by keyboard maven, Herbie Hancock, to join his new band, with which he aimed to fuse jazz with funk and reach a larger audience. What resulted was another bestselling jazz crossover album, 'Head Hunters.'

To his amazement, the modest Mason was offered a solo deal by Arista boss, Clive Davis, during a Brecker Brothers' session in 1975 and over the next several years the drum maestro served up five, very varied, albums for the label (while still working long hours as a session drummer). Now, in 2011, his vintage Arista titles 'Marching In The Street,' 'Earthmover,' 'Funk In A Mason Jar,' 'Groovin' You,' and 'M.V.P.' have all just been reissued for the first time via Soulmusic.com and in an exclusive and revealing in-depth interview with SJF's Charles Waring, the Fourplay co-founder and sticks man talks about his solo albums as well as other fascinating aspects of his long career...

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 22 September 2011 21:19

 

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