Brian Jackson – Gotta Play
(Roberts Music Group)
by Raymond Redmond
The jazz/funk music of Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson had a strong influence on the music scene in the 70’s and 80’s because it was well written, well performed and often controversial. Brian’s new CD has two of those elements in abundance…strong compositions and smooth vocals.
Parallel Lean features the unique vocalization/poetry of Jackson’s former band-mate Gil Scott-Heron and quickly segues into a new rendition of Home is Where the Hatred Is, one of the all time Heron-Jackson classics. They do it with all of the fervor and emotion that made the song a hit in the first place.
Yada Yada is my favorite track on the CD. All silky-smooth keyboards and background vocals with Don Martin’s raw bass line punctuating it from the very start, this is a funky piece. Written by the group, it features Trevor Holder on drums and Num Heru-Ur Shutef Amun’Cehu on percussion and vocals.
The title track Gotta Play features vibraphonist Roy Ayersis heavily Ayres-influenced with it’s background chorus, vocal/vibe scatting and the inevitable, stylish vibe solo. Moody Too is slow and sweet with Brian’s George Duke-like synthesizer stylings, spilling into a sweet saxophone set by David Mullen and back again. Feelin’ You is more of an R&B tune and seems targeted for the radio audience. Free 4 Fall is bright and up tempo and features some clever piano work.
The remake of the Gap Band’s R&B hit Outstanding left me a little flat. The off-key lead by Charlie Wilson on the original made it unique, and he was able to pull it off, but here it becomes a bit annoying. Roy Ayres vibes are the bright spot in the tune but are not enough to save it.
On the whole this is a very enjoyable release. Fans of the old Heron-Jackson releases will feel right at home, and there is enough new stuff to make it an interesting and enjoyable listen.
For more information or to listen to more Audio Samples visit the Brian Jackson Web Site.