With the upcoming release of ‘Speak Me’ from the Tony Rich Project there has never been a better time to turn the Smooth Jazz Therapy spotlight on this undisputed tastemaker of R & B. Born in Detroit and discovered by none other than L. A. Reid, Tony Rich first cut his musical teeth as a staff writer for Reid’s LaFace Records where he wrote songs for Boyz II Men, Johnny Gill, TLC and Toni Braxton. However Reid was rapidly discovering the potential Rich had to be a recording artist in his own right and in 1996, under the name of the Tony Rich Project, he made his debut with the hit single ‘Nobody Knows’, which climbed to number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. In that same year his debut CD ‘Words’ hit the streets. Both the album and the single went platinum and in 1997 Rich won the Grammy Award for the Best R&B Album.
Despite critical acclaim, his 1998 follow-up, ‘Birdseye’, failed to generate too much commercial success and after slipping from the public eye Rich re-emerged in 2003 with the appropriately named ‘The Resurrected’. For Rich it represented a change in musical style and combined hard hitting guitar with his trademark smooth ballads but three years later he was back with ‘Pictures’ that returned him to familiar R & B territory.
Fast-forward to 2008 and a move to the always-innovative Hidden Beach Records from where he launched his fifth CD, ‘Exist’.
His new record (also with Hidden Beach) is set for release on March 19. The first single from it, ‘Fade Away’, is a soulfully moody piece in the best traditions of contemporary R & B.
Marion Meadows can look back on an eventful past. As a young musician he had not even dream it, to become a member of Norman Connors band and be signed by Bob James' label. It took a bit to his own solo career. But twenty years later he can for sure describe himself as a staple of the smooth jazz format with recordings such as Keep It Right Here (1993), Forbidden Fruit (1994), Body Rhythm (1996), Another Side Of Midnight (1999), Next To You (2000), In Deep (2002), Players Club (2004), Dressed To Chill (2006), and Secrets (2009).
His newest project is called Whisper and is scheduled for release on March 26, 2013. Meadows produced Whisper along with Carlos Pennisi, Bob Baldwin, Rahni Song and long-time collaborator Michael Broening. In full awareness that the first piece is the calling card of a musician, he worked together with Broening The Visitor. A tune full of Oriental exoticism with the allure of mystery.
The title song is a cheerful melody, which reaches a larger group of listeners with a simple sound sequence. The elaborate arrangement satisfy even jazz fans. As first single of this album is chosen Black Pearl, which was co-produced by keyboardist Carlos Pennisi. The orchestral support is comparable with Whisper.
Main instrument on most tracks is Marion's soprano sax, but on Timeless acoustic guitar and Julian Davis' harmonica are sharing the lead. Marion Meadows gives high priority in the groove like on Curves. Everything is in flux. Marion's enchanting melodies win due to his sensible interpretation like on Magic Life.
He changes however also to other styles such as urban jazz on Bottoms Up featuring keyboardist Bob Baldwin and flutist Ragan Whiteside. With Golden Curtain he allows a direct comparison to the equally popular flutist Althea Rene. With Dave Valentine's Marcosinho composed by Dave Grusin Meadows underlines his deep connection to his musical origins. Embedded in a horn arrangement comes Sky Dive in a fashionable jazzy way.
The funky Wild Thing invites to the dance floor. Come on, let's party! Marion designed the final with his musical friend Bob Baldwin on Turn Up The Quiet. Restrained in the presentation with an understated elegance the doyens show up.
Meadows extraordinary experience is evident on his new album Whisper. It's great fun to go with him on a discovery tour.
Artist: Marion Meadows
Genre: General Jazz
01 The Visitor [4:03]
02 Whisper [4:18]
03 Black Pearl [4:30]
04 Timeless (Featuring Rahni Song & Julian Davis) [4:04]
05 Curves [4:05]
06 Magic Life [3:39]
07 Bottoms Up (Featuring Bob Baldwin & Ragan Whiteside) [4:39]
08 Golden Curtain (Featuring Althea Rene) [4:25]
09 Marcosinho (Featuring Joey Sommerville & John Roberts) [5:20]
10 Sky Dive (Featuring Joey Sommerville & John Roberts) [5:42]
11 Wild Thing [4:25]
12 Turn Up The Quiet [4:12]