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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“No Small Thing” opens with the classic in the pop rock world, Aqualung’s Brighter Then Sunshine. “…suddenly you’re mine”, sings Jennifer Carrozza as the listener is drawn into the dynamic odyssey. With the use of lush instrumentation, Mr. Carrozza sets up the voyage perfectly. The Carrozza’s fall effortlessly into the McCartney standard Blackbird. The Carrozza connection of piano and vocals is haunting and memorable…adding a novel take on the classic. From there, J-Mood travels effortlessly from Sting to Neil Young to winning melodies of their own. Of note, John Carrozza’s own Hope Restored composition is an emotional contemporary jazz number with energizing give-and-take between Sam Skelton’s genius sax and John Carrozza’s expressive piano stylings.
No Small Thing is a smart, diverse must-have that falls right into the spiritual hip pocket of the audience’s subconscious. Classic and contemporary at the same time, The Carrozza team leave an important impression while using all the colors in the palette. It is, indeed, No Small Thing.
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It's "gonna be alright" is the underlying theme of Chinua Hawk's dynamite new release "A Beautifully Complicated Life", produced by Joseph Patrick Moore. In his fourth full length compilation, Mr. Hawk sings of heartbreak and finding his way back to life. A songwriting partnership with Wyclef Jean and studio support work with Kanye West has led Chinua Hawk to "A Beautifully Complicated Life". Listeners will be captivated by Mr. Hawk's unique blend of pop, gospel, R&B and classic soul.
Chinua Hawk is a modern, award winning vocalist and a prolific songwriter. His work has been featured in television shows such as CBS "Joan of Arcadia" and movies such as "First Sunday" and Dave Chapelle's "Block Party". In one of the most affirming illustrations of Mr. Hawk's talent, he has won Billboard Magazine/Disc Makers Independent Music World Series where he beat over 1,000 bands with just a guitar player to accompany him. Mr. Hawk was also named the APCA Multi-Cultural Artist of the year for 2005 and 2006, APCA Best Cultural Fine Arts Artist in 2008, APCA Performer of the Year in 2008 and APCA Best Male Performer in 2009.
"A Beautifully Complicated Life" starts with "Back To Life" and the Grammy Award winning drumming of Yonrico Scott's riveting backbeat. The soul-drenched pop effort features Hawk's anthematic vocals perfectly while tackling the global matters of pain, faith and impending comeback.
The third track, "Nickel To Spare", has a deep funk groove and challenges the listener to keep his feet still. The sensational artist and recording engineer John Carrozza lays down irrepressible keyboard support for Mr. Hawk's airy vocals and the result is a dreamy chill that bobs heads.
The fifth track and George Michael hit, "Careless Whisper" is an amazing arrangement/spin-off of this classic chart topper. It features the incredible backing vocal work from Chantae Cann (Indie Arie) and Grammy Award Winning Jarrett Johnson (Quincy Jones) intertwined with the sultry Mr. Hawk.
In the final song, Chinua Hawk pays tribute to one of his heroes, the great Al Green. Chris Blackwell's guitar work on "Let's Stay Together" is perfect for this reinvented classic and helps lay the groundwork for Mr. Hawk's extraordinary vocals and dynamic range.
"A Beautifully Complicated Life" is an impassioned experience that displays masterfully the talent of Chinua Hawk. Mr. Hawk manages to stay current in a talented field of Adult Contemporary Pop and R&B followers. "A Beautifully Complicated Life" is a must-have for anyone wanting a new collection of great music.