Blue Canoe Records has released “Look Beyond The Rain” from veteran piano man Bob Thompson and The Bob Thompson Band. Mr. Thompson brings the optimism in a funky way with the help of legendary producer and long-time friend, Buzz Amato (Curtis Mayfield, Ben E. King, Kriss Kross). Referring to the theme of the album, Thompson asserts, “It is going to rain sometime on your life but you have to look beyond that. This music spreads love and makes people feel good.”
Bob Thompson is a performer, band leader, and educator and is a staple in the music of West Virginia. A native of New York, Mr. Thompson came to West Virginia to study trumpet at West Virginia State University. In 1991, Bob joined the West Virginia Public Broadcasting's ground breaking "Mountain Stage", as house pianist and featured artist. He is also co-producer of Joy To The World, a Holiday Jazz Show broadcast on public radio nationwide (since 1992), heard internationally on Voice Of America and was just inducted into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame in 2015. He has played all over the world with diverse artists including Bunky Green, Larry Coryell and recorded with Omar Hakim, Gerald Veasley and Kevin Eubanks.
“Look Beyond The Rain” opens with “Time 2 B One” and reveals Bob Thompson dancing along an exhilarating melody. After a few bars John Inghram (bass) and Tim Courts (drums) lay down a solid funk groove cued by the piano’s opening. The opening track unfolds into a floating solo by Doug Payne (sax), a driving solo from Ryan Kennedy (guitar) and again from Mr. Thompson with a supporting solo that brings them all together. The exchange between them resolves by the end in a dreamy fade that leaves the listener wanting more.
Possibly the most notable on the compilation is “The Swamp Stomp”. This time the listener is guided through the groove by a joyous and melodic theme on the saxophone. Again the rhythm section throws down a solid, funky groove and the listener is treated to delightful lick-swapping by some of the most talented musicians that the Eastern United States has to offer. The juxtaposition of the funk groove, wafting sax, beautifully linear fender rhodes and driving rock guitar really exposes the influences of this diverse group of individuals and melds into a solid singular voice.
“Look Beyond The Rain” is a joyful experience, no doubt about it. These incredibly talented musicians have a way of delivering accessible melody, touching the heart of the listener and not overcomplicating things. Like any great artists, they make it look easy. “Look Beyond The Rain” is a must-listen for fans of jazz, rock, blues and funk. These songs will stir emotion and leave the listener...optimistic.
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Trombonist Ron Westray releases an all original funky jazz CD titled, “Magisteria”. Produced, composed and performed from this Wynton Marsalis alumni.
Today Blue Canoe Records releases “Jimi Jazz” from jazz wonder Ron Westray. Westray’s fresh solo take on Jimi Hendrix classics blend bop with contemporary horn and makes it accessible to all listeners.
Professor Ron Westary’s professional contributions encompass a stunning list of achievements in the areas of performance, composition, recording and publishing. Since the early nineties he has performed in hundreds of performances around the globe as trombonist or lead trombonist with the most prestigious jazz ensembles in the world, including The Wynton Marsalis Septet, New York’s Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, The Mingus Big Band, Irving Mayfield, The New Orleans Jazz Orchestra and the Marcus Roberts Ensemble. Mr. Westray has received critical acclaim in numerous publications including Ebony, Essence, Downbeat, JazzTimes, Life Magazine and The New Yorker. Josep Pedro, in an All About Jazz article, said of Ron, “…takes another step ahead while showing strong vocality and rich tone”.
“Jimi Jazz”, opens with the hypnotizing groove of “Purple Haze”. The first track opens with the familiar theme and gives to raucous horn and key solos that make a listener’s feet move and ears hear this classic from a new perspective. The the time “Purple Haze” hands off to “Hey Joe”, the listener is fully committed; bound by newborn harmonization of the standard that has permanent residency in many listener’s DNA. Mr. Westray finishes this stellar compilation with a fluid version of the lesser-known classic “Third Stone From The Sun”. While Hendrix used the original to showcase his rock, jazz and blues influences, the final track to “Jimi Jazz” unwinds the collection and equips the audience for another trip around the sun.
“Jimi Jazz” is a cerebral venture that explores a classic catalog in an entirely original and contemporary way. Ron Westray is a wizard on the trombone and solos this instrument in ways that any fan will be challenged to recall. Ron Westray’s “Jimi Jazz” is requisite listening for fans of Jimi Hendrix as well as those passionate about music that pushes boundaries and genres. Musical exploration was a common theme for Mr. Hendrix just as it is for Ron Westray.
Featuring: Ron Westray (trombone), Matt Rait (guitar), Ross MacIntyre (bass), Anthony Mitchelli (drums), Richard Whiteman & Dave Restivo (fender rhodes).