Interviews

HOPE'S STILL HIGH

Friday, 27 November 2009 10:53 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

HOPE'S STILL HIGH

One of the best indie soul albums of recent years is 'Hopes Too High' from MARCELL AND THE TRUTH. The band are back with a new collection - 'Symbols' - and leader, MARCELL RUSSELL graciously invited us to discover a little about life at the sharp end of the indie soul scene. www.soulandjazzandfunk.com accepted, and started by asking how well 'Hopes Too High' had actually done….

Considering on that first album most of our exposure was as a result of MySpace, just building an email base and performances, we did pretty good. We sold close to 5,000 hard copies and 10,000 digital downloads. We either won or were nominated for over 12 independent music awards for 'Hopes Too High'. But we found out that we lost easily more than $50,000 from illegal downloads, many of which was in the 'Steppers dance' community. We appreciate their support, but we saw endless tables at shows in Detroit, Chicago, Phoenix, Maryland, Washington DC, and LA that were selling at least 100-200 CDs at each Steppers performance and our music was on 7-8 out of 10 of the Mix CDs created. We found out our music was placed on many dance instructional/training CDs illegally with no licensing agreement drawn up or signed by me/us. So, we learned since then the need for legal support, publishing and proper licensing. Through all the good, bad and ugly we saw we had a product that was worth selling and marketing …nationally and internationally.

 

SIGNING THE UNSIGNED ...

Wednesday, 21 October 2009 17:41 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

SIGNING THE UNSIGNED ...

One of UK soul's most gratifying stories of the past 12 months has been the success of SOUL UNSIGNED. The concept - it's much more than just label - was set up by PHIL DRIVER in late 2007 to provide free support to unsigned and independent soul artists through a website, radio show and then a record label. That weekly radio show now airs on numerous FM stations around Europe, including Kiss FM in Sweden, Exite FM in Spain, and QFM in Tenerife. The SOUL UNSIGNED compilation CDs regularly feature in soul music charts around the world, and they get consistently good reviews on all the main review websites, magazines and soul music forums. www.soulandjazzandfunk.com thought the time was right to track PHIL down to his Cambridgeshire lair to try to discover the secret of his success. But first, naturally, we wanted to know where his soul crusade began….

 

JESSY'S JOURNEY

Tuesday, 13 October 2009 15:02 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

JESSY'S JOURNEY

Mexican/American saxophonist/singer, JESSY J is one of the hottest new artists on the US jazz circuit. Her debut album 'Tequila Moon' topped the jazz charts and her new set - 'True Love', looks set to repeat the feat. JESSY was recently in the UK to play a series of headlining dates so www.soulandjazzandfunk.com's ultra-smooth, Smooth Jazz commentator BILL BUCKLEY caught up with her to enjoy the music and to find out just why she became 2008's Jazz Breakout Star… but first we wanted to know how she got involved in music in the first place….

I started with music when I was just 4… learning simple things on the piano - then when I was 9 my sister and I joined the elementary school band. I wanted to play the flute, but too many kids were already playing it, so the band director asked me to learn the saxophone. I really enjoyed playing the alto and naturally I started to listen to jazz. Then when I was 15 I heard this record by Cannonball Adderley with Sergio Mendes and Brazil '66. I really fell in love with that sax sound, the feel of the samba, those Latin rhythms and all that great percussion. I then went off to study at the University of South California where I majored in jazz studies and all through college I performed professionally; then after graduating I went on a world tour with a show called 'Blast'. After that I worked in the road bands of people like Jessica Simpson, Michael Bublé, Michael Bolton and even the Temptations! Jazz was always my first love though and I eventually met up with Paul Brown and we worked on my first album - 'Tequila Moon'- which went to number 1 on the jazz charts and of course, this year we released 'True Love' and right now the track 'Tropical Rain' has gone to the top of the jazz singles chart.

 

BY GEORGE! BENSON'S BACK WITH A VENGEANCE!

Wednesday, 16 September 2009 17:46 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

BY GEORGE! BENSON'S BACK WITH A VENGEANCE!

Three years on from 'Givin' It Up,' his Grammy-nominated collaboration with fellow soul/jazz veteran, Al Jarreau, the legendary GEORGE BENSON is back with a superlative new long player called 'Songs & Stories.' The 66-year-old Pittsburgh native recently chewed the fat with www.soulandjazzandfunk's Charles Waring and talked about his new CD as well as discussing key events in a career that began way back in the early 1950s.

What, in your opinion, makes for a good song?

Well, one that when people hear it, they place themselves in the situation that the song is talking about. In the case of 'Family Reunion' on my new album - written by Rod Temperton - that song is talking about a situation that many people face in their life: somewhere along the way there's a little trouble in their early stages and they need to be repaired, you know, but the most important thing is trying to keep that family together if possible.

 

KNIGHT TIME IS THE RIGHT TIME

Saturday, 05 September 2009 06:56 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

KNIGHT TIME IS THE RIGHT TIME

Resting on her laurels? Not likely. BEVERLEY KNIGHT readily confesses to being ambitious and liking a challenge so it comes as no surprise, perhaps, that even though she's collected an MBE from the Queen and has been the recipient of three MOBO awards, the 36-year-old Wolverhampton-born soul singer is not taking her foot off the gas pedal. After spending eight productive years at EMI's Parlophone imprint - where she racked up a slew of UK chart hits - Knight has elected to go it alone and recently set up her own record company, Hurricane. Her label's maiden release is '100%,' the Black Country chanteuse's first album since 2005's acclaimed long player 'Music City Soul.' Beverley took time out from her busy schedule to talk to www.soulandjazzandfunk's Charles Waring about the latest - and arguably most exciting - phase of her career.

What's the story behind your new album, '100%'?

It's a much more contemporary album than 'Music City Soul' was. This is quite up-to-date. I wanted something that was completely fresh to me - great songs and everything but with a really up-to-date production behind it. We've achieved that and I'm really, really pleased with it.

You had a long association with Parlophone and now you've started your own label, Hurricane. What was the reason for that?

Basically, I feel as though the old model of record labels and what they are and what they are doing is changing day by day. The whole old school way of making records has been revolutionised by the digital age and it's not necessary for someone in my position at my time of life and with the career that I've got at the moment to have a major label that generates a lot of money but takes a lot of it too. I wanted to be in control of my own creative and, obviously, financial destiny. The deal that I was in with EMI had come to the end anyway…it was just a matter of shall I stay or shall I go? And I was like 'okay, goodbye!'

 

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