Review By: Dana Brenklin
Brian Simpson "Out Of A Dream"
Illinois’ own, Brian Simpson, does it again. Contemporary Jazz keyboardist, musical director, composer and jack of all genres, got his first taste of success in 1991 after penning the R&B chart topper “The First Time” with Bernard Jackson for the group Surface and he hasn’t slowed down since.
Having served as the musical director for pop icon Janet Jackson, the late great George Duke and many, many more, Brian’s expertise is constantly in demand and that is what keeps this prolifically gifted Jazz contemporary working and creating.
Brian says that growing up in a musical household, he never considered any other lifestyle. He always knew that music would be center stage. Brian Simpson has a love and understanding of what he plays. He has studied his passion and says he is following in the footsteps of those who laid the foundation. With Simpson’s sixth album and latest creation, “Out of a Dream,” his knowledge and ardor have allowed him to couple Jazz and R&B beautifully.
Brian’s sixth recording and third with Shanachie Entertainment, pulls out all of the stops. With legends such as Flautist and label mate Najee and newcomer, Saxophonist Grace Kelly, this album is sure to satisfy the Smooth Jazz Aficionado.
If you’re not wooed by the title of the album, you most certainly will be captivated by the tracks. With names such as “Sky Watcher,” “Let’s Get Away” and “Rio Sway,” you’ll think you’re in a dream or on an interminable musical vacation. Once Brian starts to tickle the ivories with his musical buddies in tow, you most certainly will not desire coming out of this mellifluous dream.
The journey begins with the upbeat “One of a Kind” and from there we are off. Newcomer, saxophonist, Grace Kelly adlibs beautifully towards the end of the soulful opener. The title track joins Brian with Najee, whom he has known for years but never had the pleasure of working with. Brian says that he was so inspired by Najee’s playing on the song, he decided to name the album and track “Out of a Dream.” I guess great things come in time.
Next up, Brian and legendary saxophonist Dave Koz team up on “When I Say Your Name” and these two have worked together for years. Take a listen and you’ll understand why. The two are a musical marriage made in heaven. Brian and Dave feed off of each other, finishing each other’s notes, tunes and melodies. “When I Say Your Name” is a gem.
And it doesn’t stop there. There’s the hypnotic “Sky Watcher,” where Brian pairs up with electronic music producer Ryan Farish. “Sky Watcher” can be heard on your local Smooth Jazz stations as we speak. As you continue on this journey, you’ll find the relaxing and sexy “Rio Sway,” with label mate Maysa on vocals, which Simpson co-wrote with vocalist extraordinaire, Brenda Russell.
Other jewels are “San Lorenzo” and “Just One Wish.” “San Lorenzo” pairs Simpson with guitarist Marc Antoine, resulting in one sultry tune. “Just One Wish” was composed entirely by Brian and guitar great Norman Brown joins in on the fun for this jazzy track. Complimenting each other, both artists shine.
The good time continues with the coastal sounding “Let’s Get Away” and the dreamy “Her Eyes.” As all good things must come to an end, this ride concludes with Brian Simpson and trumpeter Maurice Brown slowly lifting our musically induced coma with “Night Fall.”
If you love live music, horns, keyboards, and more, this is the album for you. There is something for all Contemporary Jazz lovers on this melodic and tuneful masterpiece. Brian, as he has done for years now, will definitely have you coming back for more.
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