Hip hop producer turned contemporary jazz sax evangelist Sam Rucker stands out from the bunch by preaching melodic messages of hope and inspiration on “Tell You Something,” his sophomore set that was released today by Favor Productions featuring contributions from R&B and contemporary jazz veterans Norman Connors, Bobby Lyle, Tom Browne and Alyson Williams on the disc mixed and mastered by Euge Groove.
Rucker’s street cred on the gritty urban set chock full of meaty hip hop beats is never in question. Author of the album’s eight originals, he produced nine tunes and shared the helm with Connors on three classic R&B covers: “Before I Let Go,” “Footsteps in the Dark” and a version of Connors’ signature romancer “You Are My Starship” that is ignited by star turns from Browne’s gregarious trumpet and Lyle’s nuanced keyboards. The tracks throughout the session strike a deft balance between soul grooves and improvisational jazz. Rucker’s horn work is organic played passionately through soprano, tenor and alto sax. Lilting harmonies as well as a few cuts that include a vocal chorus uplift like powerful affirmations revealing the artist’s innate ability to connect and communicate with or without words. The first single, “Be True 2 Who U R” eases into the service before shaking the walls with a thundering soprano sax sermon presently finding favor with radio programmers.
A fistful of promotional events in Virginia this week will help launch “Tell You Something.” Tonight Rucker will be in Norfolk for an album listening event held by the Hampton Roads Jazz Lovers Group followed by a live interview at 10pm ET/7pm PT on internet radio program CoffeeTalk Jazz Radio. On Thursday, Rucker will make a live appearance in Hampton at The World Famous Lessons In Jazz Series and Friday finds him performing at the Portsmouth Seawall Music Festival.
Below is a sampling of some of the early album reviews heralding Rucker’s refreshing sound and approach:
“Sam Rucker has mad skills and unlimited potential!...After listening to ‘Tell You Something,’ the emotional quality of his music leaves little doubt that Sam Rucker is as sincere as he is talented.” – Critical Jazz
“Artists like Sam Rucker are more than a breath of fresh air – they represent such incredible promise to this genre because they bring understanding, energy, a genuine love for the music, and, of course, an abundance of soul.” – The Smooth Jazz Ride
“For lovers of soul-jazz.“ – Sonic Soul
"This is smooth jazz as it was in its heyday.” – Soul and Jazz and Funk
“Tell You Something offers good beginnings, a professional musicianship and exquisite arrangements.” – Smooth Jazz Daily
“Excellent return of Mr Rucker.” – No Solo Smooth Jazz