Proud As A Peacock - Jazz FM award winner, Cécile McLorin Salvant talks to SJF

Tuesday, 01 May 2018 16:41 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

                                     altTo say that double Grammy winner Cécile McLorin Salvant is happy is an understatement. Her wide, beaming smile is almost beatific and it looks like she's finding it hard to contain her emotions, which run the gamut from open-mouthed disbelief to blissful euphoria. She's just come down from the stage area at London's Jazz Fm Awards ceremony, where she performed a stupendous version of Jimmy Rowles' classic song, 'The Peacocks,' accompanied by her long-time pianist and musical collaborator, Aaron Diehl.  She hasn't walked off stage empty-handed either, and clutches the award for Jazz FM's International Jazz Artist Of The Year.  After the photographers have had their way, it's off to a secluded room - in this case the council chamber at Shoreditch's town hall - for press interviews. This was where SJF's Charles Waring, suited and booted in his best evening wear,  caught up with the Miami-born chanteuse for a quick Q&A...

Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 May 2018 17:45


GENTLE PERSUASION.... The Swing Out Sister interview

Thursday, 26 April 2018 10:33 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altEveryone's favourite smooth soul duo, SWING OUT SISTER have a new and long-awaited album out in June. 'Almost Persuaded' is the collection's name and leaked tracks and sneak previews reveal that once again CORINNE DREWERY and ANDY CONNELL have crafted a work of understated beauty that offers the pair's unique twist on sophisticated 60s/70s soul liberally sprinkled with Jimmy Webb influences and garnished with the odd smooth jazz flourish and cinematic sweep. Incredibly the pair have been doing just that now for nearly 30 years and when we caught up with them the first thing we wanted to know is where on earth do the manage to fresh motivation and inspiration...

CORINNE: All kinds of places...but I suppose Andy and I come from a different direction as we make different contributions to our music. I usually respond to the music that Andy writes...the lyrics describing the feeling that Andy's musical landscape creates in my mind, although I have mental notes of phrases and thoughts that pop into my head, a newspaper headline, a line from a film, a conversation I have overheard. Travel always changes the way you think...a long drive, landing in a different country, the shock of the new...but when you get home to familiar ground, that's when inspiration comes rushing in and finds its way into whatever you are creating.

Last Updated on Thursday, 26 April 2018 10:56


"It's the greatest high in the world" - DUKE FAKIR talks about the FOUR TOPS' forthcoming UK tour with The Temptations

Saturday, 21 April 2018 12:29 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF


           altThe mighty Four Tops scored their first British hit way back in 1965 with 'I Can't Help Myself,' a key record that helped to establish Detroit's Motown sound in the UK. Fifty-three years and thirty-four UK charts hits later, miraculously, this legendary vocal quartet are still going strong. Though only Abdul 'Duke' Fakir remains from the original line-up, they keep the authentic spirit of Motown alive. Frequent visitors to the UK since their very first tour in 1967, the Four Tops are due to return to these shores later this year in November, when they will be performing in tandem with another iconic Motor City vocal group, The Temptations. For fans of both groups and Motown, the keenly-anticipated tour promises ten magical nights of nostalgia in places ranging from Glasgow and Gateshead to Bournemouth and Southend-on-Sea.

Ahead of the tour, the Tops' main man, Duke Fakir (pictured second from right above), is waxing lyrical about the United Kingdom and its inhabitants. "It's our favourite country," he says. "It's such a great place coming over there and we love the way they reward us and respect us." In terms of what the group will be serving up to their British fans, Duke says: "We aim to please so we'll be sure to give them all the best of the things they love to hear. It's the finest tour of the year for us when we come to the UK. We know they want to hear the classics and we'll also be sure to do some tunes that are more popular in the UK than they are here in the US."

The Four Tops have been combining their talents on the road with The Temptations in Britain for many years now. Though they used to be fierce rivals at Motown, beneath the competitiveness lie deeper bonds of kinship and brotherhood. "We're very good friends and have been for a long time," says Duke. "Years ago, we used to hang out after the shows. We'd bounce around and have a few drinks here and there but now we're older and we save our energy pretty much for the stage. So when we're on the road together, we eat a lot of meals together and sometimes play cards and if it's warm enough, we'll play golf as well. Sometimes we even shop together. Myself and Ron Tyson of the Temptations are extremely close and are particularly into clothes shopping and like to go to Bond Street."

Joining the Tops and Tempts on this tour is another noted US vocal group that was big in the '70s, Tavares. "They're a great group," says Duke. "They have a couple of golfers and we have a couple of golfers, and we've done that a couple of times. So we try to make the trip very, very comfortable and enjoyable. They add to the competition so you have to totally be at your best every night, which totally rewards the audiences 100%. You have to enjoy what you're doing because every night is extremely important and it's not just a gig to get through or what we call a 'hit and split.' It's going out there and doing a job for the people ...but it's fun!"

Last Updated on Sunday, 22 April 2018 13:19


THE LOVE TRAIN'S BACK IN TOWN - Eddie Levert talks to SJF about the legendary O'JAYS' one-off London gig in July

Sunday, 15 April 2018 09:02 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

                  altOne of the best-loved vocal groups of the 1970s, the mighty, much-garlanded O'Jays are synonymous, of course,  with the Philadelphia sound, an urbane and sophisticated style of R&B where soul and funk grooves were dressed up in opulent symphonic orchestration. Though they started out way back in 1959, it was in 1972 when the O'Jays joined Gamble & Huff's groundbreaking Philadelphia International label that the trio originally from Canton, Ohio,  hit the big time and became a global force, racking up hit after memorable hit in the shape of 'Backstabbers,' 'Love Train,' 'I Love Music' and many, many more.

Like their contemporaries, The Temptations and Four Tops, the O'Jays have been working consistently during the last six decades and are still going strong today. But unlike those two illustrious groups, who can only boast one founding member each, the O'Jays actually have two charter members on board - Eddie Levert and Walter Williams. Ahead of the trio's forthcoming show in London's West End at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane - where they'll be performing on Sunday 15th July -  SJF's Charles Waring talked to Eddie Levert (on the right of the above picture) about the group's imminent UK trip and their storied career.

Talking to me from his home in sunny Las Vegas, our conversation starts off with Levert asking me about the British weather. He chortles raucously when I tell him he'll probably need to bring an umbrella with him in July. "I love going over there because it's the only place I know that serves beans with breakfast," he laughs. While the prospect of having baked beans with a traditional "full English" palpably excites him, on a more serious note, he remarks that the UK remains a hard market for the O'Jays to crack - and it perplexes him. "We recorded a live album over there back in the '70s, 'The O'Jays Live In London,' which did very well for us, but we've never quite been able to really bust or break into that market," he says ruefully.  "Our popularity there is not as great as it is in other places and other parts of the world. I don't quite understand that because we get a lot of requests from people over there. They say, 'come back to England, come back, we want to see you,' but I'm always disheartened when we get there as the places are not really packed out."

Last Updated on Sunday, 22 April 2018 13:22


MAMA SAID.... The Mamas Gun Interview....

Wednesday, 11 April 2018 18:35 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altUK blue-eyed soul band MAMAS GUN broke out in 2009 with their lovely 'Routes To Riches' long player. From that set, 'Pots Of Gold' remains a classic soft soul ballad. The band are all set to release a new album in May and though busy making preparations for the launch and a mini promotional tour, the five some – leader Andy Platts, alongside Terry Lewis, Chris Boot, Cam Dawson and Dave Oliver met up with SJF to share their excitement. But, of course, first things first – we needed some back ground and band history....

TERRY: We formed back in the days of MySpace in 2007. At the time it provided a great platform for musicians to connect and share their music and that's how we all got to know each other. We borrowed our band name from an Eryka Badu album, because it sounded good. Our original line up was Andy, Dave, Jack, Rex and me -Terry. We got together based on our desire to play Andy's songs and the first album, 'Routes to Riches' was the product of that. We recorded the album on very small budget initially and then we were signed to Decca/Universal and suddenly things felt every exciting and we were able to finish the album in bucket list style, adding a 14 piece string section and dream team mixing by Jack Joseph Puig at Ocean Way in LA and mastering from Bob Ludwig. Sadly our major label ride was cut short when Decca hit financial problems before the album was even released and since then we've been an independent act on our own label Candelion. By the time we were writing our 3rd album Rex was replaced with Cam on bass and then Chris came onboard to replace drummer jack in 2016 and we began work on our 4th. Right now in 2018 we feel we are our strongest musically and personally. Our latest album 'Golden Days' is the album we've always wanted to make but somehow always got diverted into other musical segues.

I believe Andy studied at LIPA (the Liverpool Performing Arts Academy set up by Paul McCartney)... What was that like?

ANDY: LIPA for me was a right-place-right-time situation. Partying hard, experimentation - all pars for the course. The fact that I was doing it with musicians from around the globe only enriched the experience. I spent a lot of time being crap at some stuff and excelling at others. But it all served to sharpen my interest in music making and song writing to the point of obsession. Obsession (self flagellation) is how you get better at things. Well it works for me anyway. The very best thing about LIPA was meeting the woman who became my wife. We've been together 18 years and we're still kids.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 April 2018 18:50


Page 7 of 57