The Genie - Keyboard Wiz Bob James Talks To SJF

Tuesday, 04 September 2018 13:00 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

   altDepending on which generation you belong to and where your musical allegiances lie, keyboard legend Bob James is either the father of smooth jazz or the godfather of hip-hop. Though ostensibly a jazz musician whose breakthrough came at CTI Records in the mid-1970s when he pioneered an accessible, radio-friendly brand of jazz fusion, this genial Missouri musician discovered in the late '80s that his music was being plundered for samples by hip-hop producers in search of ready-made grooves and break-beats. To date, James is the 14th most sampled musician of all time (in pole position is James Brown, of course), something which he's simultaneously both mystified by and tremendously proud of.  "I'm still shocked," laughs James, "but it's wonderful and a reminder to me that throughout my career as a composer who has attempted to handle my copyrights as well as I can, the more that you can keep control over your work, the better, because you never know when something is going to be at the right place at the right time."

Hip-hop's love affair with James' back catalogue over the last 30 years has undoubtedly been a lucrative source of income for the 78-year-old pianist, bringing in a steady stream of royalty payments that have certainly made his life more comfortable. But James is not one for resting on his laurels and has never, seemingly, contemplated retirement. Though his last solo album proper was in 2013 ('Alone: Kaleidoscope By Solo Piano'), he's not been idle, contributing to smooth jazz supergroup Fourplay's 2016 album, 'Silver,' and taking part in collaborations with alto saxophonist David Sanborn ('Quartette Humaine'), bass player, Nathan East ('The New Cool'), and flautist Nancy Stagnitta ('In The Chapel In The Moonlight'). Now, in the late summer of 2018  James has elected to return to the fray with a new solo venture, 'Espresso,' on the Evosound label. It's a trio album featuring the talents of bassist, Michael Palazzolo, and drummer, Billy Kilson. In the following interview, he talks at length to SJF's Charles Waring, not only about his new album but also key junctures of his storied career...

Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 September 2018 07:22


Just For The Record: Lucie Silvas talks E.G.O. with Soul and Jazz and Funk

Friday, 24 August 2018 10:00 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

           altOn August 24 Lucie Silvas will release E.G.O., her fourth album and her follow up to her critically-acclaimed and roots-infused Letters to Ghosts.

E.G.O. is an exquisite blend of soul and funk and blues, bringing to mind Motown harmonies and Philly soul with moments of country, gospel and 1970s pop. E.G.O. takes you on a journey back in time to the music of Dusty Springfield, The Beach Boys and Carole King, and even Frank Sinatra on the track ‘Everything Looks Beautiful.'

Recently, SJF contributor, Emily Algar, had the opportunity to interview Lucie Silvas and asked her about the music and artists that inspired E.G.O, her childhood influences, politics in music, and the importance of honesty in making music...

Last Updated on Friday, 24 August 2018 18:53


JUST ONE LOVE: The Cornell Carter interview.....

Thursday, 12 July 2018 10:59 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altFor the past few years San Francisco's CORNELL "CC" CARTER has emerged as a proper modern soul contender. The onetime session and bv singer (he's worked with people like Ray Charles, James Brown, The Whispers, The Temptations, Natalie Cole, Kool and the Gang and most recently Narada Michael Walden) has stepped out on his own and his album 'In The Moment' won him plenty of admirers and a selection of singles and their remixes scaled the all credible European soul charts. Then there was his mighty fine 2017 "covers" album – 'Vindicated Soul' – a tribute to many of his soul heroes.

Right now Cornell is putting the finishing touches to a new album – 'One Love' and with the release almost with us, the time was right for us to find out some more about Cornell Carter or is it 'CC' – as he was billed on some of his early releases. So, when we caught up with him, that was the obvious opener – do you prefer Cornell Carter or 'CC"?

I guess I'm simply Cornell CC Carter......

OK then, tell us about your background and musical heroes....

I was born in Berkeley California and raised in San Francisco, So basically the Bay Area! My first influences were in our home where my Mom played a lot of Blues as well as what we called Honky Tonk music! But my biggest influence was my brother who passed away early in life but was a great Singer! Outside of that it was, James Brown, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder!

Last Updated on Thursday, 12 July 2018 11:13


JAKI GRAHAM: The Interview

Tuesday, 03 July 2018 13:33 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altBirmingham's JAKI GRAHAM has a wonderful music CV, stuffed with enviable achievements – most notably the fact that she was the first British black female solo artist to enjoy 6 consecutive top 20 hits. Of late, though, we've not heard too much from her – till this month when she emerged with a wonderful new long player, 'When A Woman Loves' (see our reviews archive). Most would see it as a kind of "comeback" however when we met up with Ms Graham for a chat about the album, she didn't see it that way and she insisted that despite what some soul commentators have said she's NOT the "forgotten woman of Brit soul"!

Not at all! I don't feel forgotten as I'm constantly working, all the time, worldwide. I definitely feel I'm a part of people's history. And although I've been quiet in the UK I've had releases internationally that have done very well, so I've still been flying the flag for the UK. The fans still give me the love and have been very patient in waiting for the new material. It's also nice to know that I get a lot of acknowledgment from my peers who recognize me as having been one of the first to open the doors for British female artists who followed.

OK tell us about your career post 80s ..... how hard have you found it to find work and get record deals.....Your PR sheets talk about a "challenging life journey" – are you prepared to tell us about that?

After all the hits in the 80s I secured a deal with Avex in Japan where it turned out I had a huge following, so the 90s was pretty busy for me too. I had the hit with Chaka Khan's Ain't Nobody which was No.1 in the US Billboard Dance Charts for 5 weeks and I think the follow up single got to No.3 or 5, again for 5 weeks. The albums with Avex sold so well they decided to release another 2 albums of tracks that didn't quite make the cut for the first 3. So, with all this material I was constantly touring, whether it was across the US, Japan, Australia, Europe and then I always have gigs back home here in the UK. I suppose after leaving Avex I never really actively looked for another deal. It had been made clear in earlier years that I was probably of an age where I was too old to be able to get another deal so I was content performing live, as fortunately the hits and my catalogue have stood the test of time. As for my challenging life journey then more recent years were tough as I lost some very close friends to Cancer (which I also lost my parents to when I was younger) and amongst all this, nearly lost my husband Tony of 41 years, to heart failure which was tough. It was my daughter and manager Natalie who pushed me to record as she was convinced I had a story to tell and we could release new music ourselves, especially as we're now in the digital world of social media (which I'm still trying to get my head around). Once Tony was a bit better, the time felt right to start sourcing new songs and that was the road that's led us to where I am now.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 July 2018 13:53



Wednesday, 20 June 2018 10:21 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF


Judith Hill is talking to me from Nashville, the iconic capital of country music. It's not a place you would imagine her to be, or, perhaps, have an affinity with - after all, she's a Los Angeles-raised R&B and funk singer with gospel music roots, but the 34-year-old confesses that being in the iconic Tennessee metropolis ignites her imagination.  "It's really, really, inspiring to be here in this city," she enthuses. "It's fun because I love any kind of bluegrass and roots guitar playing." That statement is not one you would perhaps expect to hear from someone who's worked closely with Michael Jackson and Prince but it's insightful because it reveals that Judith Hill is refreshingly different and doesn't think in terms of genres - to her, then, music is music: it's a universal language and a unifying force that all can share despite their ethnic and cultural diversity.

It's a viewpoint that fits in with the theme of the singer's latest single, 'The Pepper Club,' an addictive chunk of horn-laden funk with an infectious chorus. It offers a taste of her forthcoming second, story-driven, concept album, 'Golden Child.' "'The Pepper Club is the place where everybody comes together and celebrates culture and diversity," explains Judith. "I picture it as a cultural Mecca - a place that people can come and have a good time and enjoy themselves and celebrate life, regardless of who they are and what their background is."

Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 June 2018 11:44


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