Years in the making and after a pandemic delay and a hectic schedule serving as musical director for Earth, Wind & Fire, keyboardist Myron McKinley’s adventurous experiment in sound mixing jazz, neo soul, hip hop and funk is finally slated to release on February 10. McKinley produced “Sound Alchemist,” his debut album arriving from Dark Elf Music that will be celebrated the next night with a concert performance at The Miracle Theater in Inglewood, CA. Tickets for the show presented by Concerts.Cafe and radio station KJAZZ are on sale now.
There’s something that feels righteous about “Sound Alchemist” dropping during Black History Month. The ten-track collection is a culturally rich amalgam reflecting the diverse Black music diaspora.
“‘Sound Alchemist’ couldn’t have been made without some of the Black pioneers of music that have led with their creativity, technique, vision and style. From Nat King Cole, Oscar Peterson, George Duke and Miles Davis to our living legends like Herbie Hancock, there’s an essence of them that I feel is reflected in this project,” said McKinley, who composed six songs for the set as well as crafted imaginative interpretations of material originally recorded by Drake, Sting, The Carpenters and, naturally, Earth, Wind & Fire.
With a set list highlighting tunes from “Sound Alchemist,” McKinley will be flanked on stage at The Miracle Theater by guitarist Tony Pulizzi, bassist Ian Martin, drummer Stacey Lamont Sydnor and EWF saxophonist Gary Bias (who performs on the album). Several special guests are expected to perform with McKinley including EWF’s effervescent energizing bass player Verdine White (who appears on the album) and vocalist LaVance Colley.
Last fall, a couple of music videos were released for songs from “Sound Alchemist.” McKinley’s pays homage to Earth, Wind & Fire with a version of their R&B ballad “Imagination” and a video made from hundreds of photos taken by the keyboardist over his twenty years of performing around the world with the Rock & Roll Hall of Famers. An audacious blend of club banging dance grooves, edgy hip hop and futuristic jazz comes alive in the innovative computer animated video for “Let’s Just See.” Both videos are available for viewing at https://myronmckinley.com/sound-alchemist.
When he first began work on “Sound Alchemist,” McKinley had an ambitious goal of testing the boundaries of jazz, pushing those limits and breaking through in an attempt to spur growth and evolution in the musical artform. Among the alchemists he invited to experiment on the record are Grammy-winning saxophonist Gerald Albright, bassist Reggie Hamilton, percussionist Munyungo Jackson, guitarists Eric Walls, Morris O’Connor and Greg “G-Moe” Moore; EWF trombonist Reggie Young, and vocalists Danny McClain, Isabella Chiappini and Denaine Jones.
McKinley is a Los Angeles native who was trained in classical and jazz, but also credits the church and hip hop for shaping his sonic mélange. He has toured with Whitney Houston, Kenny Lattimore, Stanley Clarke and En Vogue; written, cowrote or produced songs for EWF, Clarke, Doc Powell, Silk, Vesta, Cherokee and Howard Hewett; and composed music for film and television scores, contributing to “Soul Food,” “Romeo Must Die,” “The Best Man,” “Think Like A Man,” “Shaft,” and “The Godfather of Harlem” among others.
Tickets are available for The Miracle in four tiers. Table seating ($202) includes two signed “Sound Alchemist” CDs, two signed posters, two glasses of champagne, and two twelve-ounce packages of McKinley’s Legacy Coffee, which is an Ethiopian Misty Valley Blend (Light/Medium Roast). VIP seating ($75) includes one signed CD and poster, and one twelve-ounce package of coffee. Floor seats are $55 while balcony seats go for $40.