Indulging his passion for R&B-pop on the second volume of his five-part, multi-genre “Outside the Box” series, keyboardist David Garfield will release “Jammin’ Outside the Box” on July 20 on Creatchy Records. Like the first disc, the straight-ahead jazz exploration “Jazz Outside the Box,” Garfield produced, arranged and played piano, Fender Rhodes, Wurlitzer electric piano and synthesizers on a carefully-selected set list with purposefully-chosen collaborators that spotlights sessions with seminal icons, Grammy winners, chart-toppers and prominent players. Garfield has a personal connection and meaningful history with every song and each musician he selected for the groove rich, soul-jazz album, crucial elements that position the ambitious “Outside the Box” anthology towards becoming an enduring, career-capping collection.
Two of the singles that prefaced “Jammin’ Outside the Box,” “Go Home” and “Jamming,” peaked in the Billboard Top 10 and the recently-released third single, “Stay” featuring George Benson, David Sanborn and singer-songwriter Moon Calhoun, aims to follow suit. In addition to the three original Garfield tunes, including “One Like You,” which he wrote with Smokey Robinson, who plies his trademark falsetto complimented by Michael McDonald on background vocals, Garfield redesigned R&B, funk and pop classics made famous by Stevie Wonder, Bob Marley, Adele, Sting, Aretha Franklin, Toto, Isley Brothers, Rufus, Minnie Riperton, Bobby Caldwell and one of his keyboard mentors, Joe Sample. To do so, Garfield gathered members of the Zac Brown Band, Steely Dan, Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers, Chicago, Toto and Tower of Power along with an army of noteworthy soloists including Ray Parker Jr., Kirk Whalum, Rick Braun, Marcus Miller, Paul Jackson Jr., Eric Marienthal, Tom Scott, Vinnie Colaiuta, Greg Phillinganes, Steve Jordan, Freddie Washington, Will Lee, Tony Maiden, Rickey Minor and Lenny Castro.
“One of the things I have always loved to do is keep the spirit of old-school R&B fresh and alive for new generations of listeners. This explains my longstanding tradition of creating interesting and sometimes stylistically off-the-beaten path reimaginings of songs by legendary soul artists. It was a thrill doing these songs, adding a jazz touch with improvisation that take the songs ‘outside the box.’ What was also special for me is that this album features a lot of people I work with or have worked for, from Smokey and George to David Sanborn and Natalie Cole, but now I got to have them as guests on my thing,” said Garfield, a Los Angeles-based musician’s musician who grew up in St Louis on a steady diet of R&B and jazz.
An example of the poignancy that proliferates “Jammin’ Outside the Box,” one can look at “The Highways Of My Life,” which features an introduction by Cole. Garfield toured with her for two years. During their first trek together, she introduced him to the Isley Brothers’ original and asked him to craft an arrangement for her. Before they could perform it live together, Garfield was summoned to return to his long-held gig as Benson’s music director. But Cole performed his arrangement nonetheless. When Garfield hatched the “Outside the Box” concept a few years ago, he reached out to Cole to have her sing it. Unfortunately, she passed away prior to the recording date. Admirably filling in for her are Oleta Adams and Phil Perry, who masterfully reposition the song as a moving duet. Cole’s voice is heard introducing the song, creating a divine moment.
“The final touch was having a 24-piece string section arranged by Grammy winner John Clayton. This takes the song to the high and luxurious level a tribute to Natalie deserves. I owe this track to Natalie. It was one of her favorite songs and that’s why it’s an important part of this collection.”
“Jammin’ Outside the Box” contains the following songs:
“Please Don’t Go”
“One Like You”
“Waiting For Your Love”
“Rainbow Seeker” (electric)
“The Highways Of My Life”
“What You Won’t Do For Love”
“Harvest Time” (electric)