Wednesday, July 18, 2018

PIANIST, COMPOSER & PRODUCER BRIAN SIMPSON IS THE MASTER OF MELODY & GROOVE ON NEW CD "SOMETHING ABOUT YOU"


"Over the years I continue to appreciate how music can inspire people through good and bad times, and I never take for granted the opportunity I have to play a small part in someone's life," confides chart-topping keyboardist, composer, prolific studio musician and producer Brian Simpson. A master at crafting unforgettable melodies and timeless anthems, Simpson's soulful approach to the music has made him first call for many musicians across numerous genres. Brian Simpson's Midas touch has been called upon by everyone from Janet Jackson, Teena Marie and George Duke, to Stanley Clarke, Boney James and Dave Koz. Simpson's newest masterpiece and eighth recording as a leader, Something About You, is the perfect amalgamation of influences that are close to the pianist's heart: Jazz, R&B, Funk, Soul. His eloquent touch, sophisticated harmonic sensibility and bluesy overtones bless each of the album's ten originals. The pianist enlists help from a seasoned group of musicians including programmer and co-producer Steve Oliver and keyboardist Oliver Wendell, who also helped to co-produced the CD. The trio was joined by bassists Alex Al and Andre Berry, guitarists Darrell Crooks and Yarone Levy, percussionist Ramon Yslas and trumpeter Ron King. Brian Simpson's eighth recording as a leader find the consummate pianist churning out in the pocket grooves and dancing melodies that he has long been revered for but also pushing his sonic limits to new heights.

There are many qualities that make Brian Simpson's music distinctive but one of the most powerful elements is his ability to compose unbelievably beautiful and striking melodies. This gift has landed him on top of the charts numerous times. "I have figured out that there is no simple way to write a good song,"  he explains "You have to take time crafting every element. I will often write one melody for a song then try to come up with something completely different, then let a day go by before listening again in order to get an objective opinion on which one to use. I often make changes at the last minute, so it's a process of refinement that isn't over until it's over!"

Something About You opens with the jubilant and funky title track which shines a spotlight on Simpson's effervescent and soaring piano lines juxtaposed to the bouncy and bottom heavy bass lines of Alex Al and rhythmic fancy of  Ramon Yslas. The sweet and dreamy "Morning Samba," the album's first single and the mystical "Blue Horizon," both possess an intoxicating EDM vibe. "I wanted this project to sound modern, which I hoped to accomplish through electronic music elements," says Simpson. "This should catch your ear upon first listen. What I hoped would be unique is combining those elements with the organically funky bass and guitar that has become a distinction of my music." The pervasive feeling on Something About You is one of joy and upliftment. Simpson and company fuel the good times with the percussive "Mojave," featuring the intense and beautiful interplay between Simpson's piano and Yarone Levy's guitar. The seductive and R&B laced "Chemistry," featuring trumpeter Ron King, is a high point on the CD. "I'm following in the footsteps of those that laid the foundation of contemporary jazz music," says Simpson. "Fusing jazz and R&B is just what contemporary jazz is all about." The pop infused songs "At First Sight" and "Irresistible" show the melodic brilliance of Simpson who is unparalled in his ability to compose breathtakingly beautiful melodies that almost sing their way into your subconscious mind and soul. Something About You also features "Gotta Get To You," a sensuous ballad with a relentless rock-steady groove and the emotive "Speechless," which will tug on your heartstrings with its wistful melodic lines and Simpson's longing and tender piano touch. It is fitting that the CD closes with the gorgeous composition "The Rainbow." And just like the qualities of a rainbow, Simpson creates an an illusion all of his own - an auditory illusion spurred by his majestic touch and ability to conjure deep emotion. He shares, "My hope is always the same, that somehow the melodies, harmonies, and grooves make a connection with people."

Hailing from Gurnee, Illinois, Brian always knew music would play center stage in his life. "Our house was filled with music. My older brother and sister both played instruments, and my brother's rock band rehearsed in our living room every weekend," shares the keyboardist. "My dad listened to jazz with such a keen ear. I learned to enjoy the beauty of a great jazz solo and how to discern the musicians with great phrasing from listening to music with him."

Simpson's breakthrough as a solo artist began in 2005 with the #1 radio hit "It's All Good." The title track of It's All Good proved instantly and joyfully prophetic, as it hit #1 on the Radio & Records Smooth Jazz Airplay chart and remained in the Top 5 for four months.  His follow-up single, "Saturday Cool," went Top 15. In 2007 Simpson released Above the Clouds, which delivered the memorable radio hits "What Cha Gonna Do?" (Top 10) and "Juicy" (Top 15).  After graduating from Northern Illinois University, Simpson relocated to Los Angeles where he quickly immersed himself in the local jazz scene.  Late night jazz sessions found him playing alongside everyone from saxophonists Everette Harp and Boney James to guitarist Norman Brown.  The free-spirited musician soon found himself taking a temporary leave of absence from the jazz scene, touring the world with pop divas Teena Marie, Sheena Easton and Janet Jackson.  His foray into the pop world didn't end there; in January, 1991 he co-wrote the #1 Pop hit "The First Time" by Surface, which conquered both the R&B and Adult Contemporary charts.   Placing his success in pop aside, Brian Simpson has always been a working jazz musician.  He has toured with some of the greats of recent jazz history, including George Duke, Stanley Clarke, Larry Carlton, George Howard, Billy Cobham, and Gerald Albright.  Brian has been the musical director for jazz saxophonist Dave Koz for close to 20 years, and for close to a decade the Musical Director of the ambitious and highly popular  "The Smooth Jazz Cruise." In 2010 Simpson released South Beach whose title track snagged a #1 slot on the charts. Just What You Need followed in 2013 featuring the Antônio Carlos Jobim/ Vinicius de Moraes classic "The Girl From Ipanema" which hit #1 on the charts and "Emerald City," a top 3 hit. 2015's Out Of A Dream featured the Top Ten single "Skywatcher." 2016 saw the release of Persuasion which featured the top 10 single "Wonderland."

With the anticipated release of Something About You, Brian Simpson further asserts himself as one of the most thrilling and innovative pioneers on the contemporary jazz scene.  He concludes, "I have what I consider the greatest job in the world. I feel like I have much more music to make and I can hardly wait to make it."


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