The ninth installment of South Florida’s uber jazz festival dubbed “Jazz in the Gardens 9” gets on the way from March 15-16, 2014, on the grounds of the Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. In case, you have been hiding under a rock for the last eight years, Jazz in the Gardens (“JITG9”) was created by the former City of Miami Gardens Mayor Shirley Gibson. Over the past eight years, JITG has been held as a two-day festival, but this year, the organizers added the first annual opening night party featuring the 80s Dazz Band with the SOS Band, to be held at Calder Casino & Race Course on March 14. This musical extravaganza has grown to become highly regarded in comparison to its counterparts around the country, and is definitely a “must-see and must go” for music lovers both nationally and internationally, attracting some 63,000 fans in 2013. The JITG stage has been graced by some of the music world’s biggest icons from across the globe. With artists such as Jonathan Butler, Angelique Kidjo, KEM, O’Jays, Isley Brothers, Al Jarreau, George Duke, Common, Erykah Badu, Nancy Wilson, Kenny G, Stanley Clarke and Maze featuring Frankie Beverly (Clarke and Maze are both returning this year), so one could definitely say music fans were have been treated to a musical feast for the past eight years. JITG9’s lineup of musical acts will satisfy the young at heart and the seasoned fan, who enjoys a little Soul, Hip Hop, R&B Classics and would even get down with some Adult Contemporary flavor. The opening night party will reintroduced fans to the 80s hot shot bands, from Cleveland, Ohio’s Dazz Band (Let It Whip) to Atlanta’s very own SOS Band (Take Your Time – Do It Right), it should be a show with each band parading their hits, as both bands have had their fair share. Saturday’s lineup will showcase the stylings of jazz man himself Boney James, R&B crooners Mint Condition, Trey Songz and Jamie Foxx and R&B goddess Kelly Rowland. When Rachelle Ferrell, Stanley Clarke, Anthony Hamilton and LL COOL J hit the stage on Sunday, all of the fans on the grounds of the Sun Life Stadium will be blown away by the musical diversity. But with all the saxophone, bass guitars and showmanship, closing out Sunday night will be the incomparable, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, who is also returning to JITG9 and whose existence and track record needs no further introduction. With such hits as “Happy Feelings,” “Workin Together,” and “Lady of Magic,” this group who arrived on the scene in 1977 ha snot missed a beat since. For the true JITG fan, the festival is not only about the music and the artists performing, JITG is about bringing cultures together, it is about the foods, the friendships and the vibes. JITG9 will bring together vendors and their culinary creations from vegetarian to BBQ, so bring your healthy appetite. Every good music festival surely needs a great host, so for JITG9 comedian/actor D.L. Hughley signed on to be the Emcee. Hughley will have some big shoes to fill as “Fly Jock” Tom Joyner and Michael Baisden brought their A game to JITG previously. However, Hughley is no slouch, he is one of the four Original Kings of Comedy and has launched his own daily radio show – “The D.L. Hughley Show, which airs on Reach Media Network and done his own HBO special. Bring on the fun stuff – I know you will DL.
The 5th Annual Jazz In The Gardens is gearing up to welcome legendary jazz master and pianist Joe Sample, to be one of the headliners on day one, of the highly-anticipated music festival. Jazz In The Gardens will be held on the grounds of the new Sunlife Stadium (formerly Dolphins Stadium) from March 20-21, 2010. Over the last five years, the music fest has attracted several national and international artists and Joe Sample’s appearance this year will just add more star power to this great event.
Joe has longed been a favorite of mine, this legendary performer could easily be known as the king of hard bop, and should also be credited for his switch to electronic piano in the fusion era. Joseph Leslie “Joe” Sample was born on February 1, 1939 in Houston, Texas. He is an pianist, keyboard player and composer. As one of the founding members of the Jazz Crusaders (the band which became simply The Crusaders in 1971) Sample remained a part of the group until its final album in 1991.
Sample began playing the piano when he was five years old. Since the early 1980s, he has enjoyed a successful solo career, making guest appearances on many recordings by other performers and groups, including Miles Davis, George Benson, Jimmy Witherspoon, B. B. King, Eric Clapton, Steely Dan, and The Supremes. Sample who is famous for fusing jazz, gospel, blues, Latin, and classical forms into his music, seperating him from the other talented pianist like David Beniot and Monte Alexander.
While in high school in the 1950s, Sample teamed up with two friends, saxophonist Wilton Felder and drummer “Stix” Hooper, to form a group called the Swingsters. While studying piano at Texas Southern University, Sample met and added trombonist Wayne Henderson and several other players to the Swingsters, which became the Modern Jazz Sextet and then the Jazz Crusaders, in emulation of one of the leading progressive jazz bands of the day, Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers.
Sample never earned a degree from Texas Southern; instead in 1960, he and the Jazz Crusaders made the move from Houston to Los Angeles. The group quickly found success on the West Coast, making its first recording, Freedom Sounds in 1961. The Jazz Crusaders released up to four albums a year for much of the 1960s. The Jazz Crusaders played at first in the dominant hard bop style of the day, standing out by virtue of their unusual front-line combination of saxophone (played by Wilton Felder) and Henderson’s trombone. Another distinctive quality was the funky, rhythmically appealing acoustic piano playing style of Sample, who helped steer the group’s sound into a fusion between jazz and soul in the late 1960s. The Jazz Crusaders became a strong concert draw during those years.
While Sample and his band mates continued to work together, he and the other band members pursued individual work as well. In 1969 Sample made his first recording under his own name; Fancy Dance featured the pianist as part of a jazz trio. In the 1970s, as the Jazz Crusaders became simply the Crusaders and branched out into popular sounds, Sample became known as a L.A. studio musician, appearing on recordings by the likes of Joni Mitchell, Marvin Gaye, Tina Turner, B. B. King, Joe Cocker, Minnie Riperton and Anita Baker. In 1975 he went into the studios with jazz legends Ray Brown on bass, and drummer Shelly Manne to produce a then state-of-the-art recording direct to disc entitled The Three. About this time Blue Note reissued some of the early work by the Jazz Crusaders as “The Young Rabbits.” This was a compilation of their recordings done between 1962-68.
The electric keyboard was fairly new at the time, and Sample became one of the instrument’s pioneers. He switched to electric keyboard for his recordings with the Crusaders themselves, and the group hit a commercial high-water mark with the hit single “Street Life” and the album of the same name in 1979. In 1978 he did a joint session with guitarist David T. Walker, Swing Street Café, which had all the feel of a live set done in a back street joint in Texas.
The Crusaders, after losing several key members, broke up after recording Life in the Modern World for the GRP label in 1987. Despite the disbanding of the Crusaders, the members would join each other to record periodically over the years; releasing Healing the Wounds in the early ’90s. Felder, Hooper, and Sample recorded their first album, called Rural Renewal, as the reunited Crusaders group in 2003 and did a live concert in Japan in 2004.
Since Sample’s Fancy Dance (1969), he has recorded several solo albums, including the George Duke produced Sample This.
GRP also released Joe Sample Collection, and a three disc Crusaders Collection, as testament to Sample’s enduring legacy. The pianist’s most recent recordings are The Song Lives On (1999), featuring duets with singer Lalah Hathaway, and The Pecan Tree (2002), a tribute to his hometown of Houston, where he relocated in 1994. His 2004 album on Verve, Soul Shadows, paid tribute to Duke Ellington and Jelly Roll Morton, and pre-jazz bandleader James Reese Europe. In 2007 he recorded Feeling Good with vocalist Randy Crawford.
Some of his works are featured on The Weather Channel’s “Local On The 8s” segments and his song “Rainbow Seeker” is included in their 2008 compilation release, The Weather Channel Presents: Smooth Jazz II. Nicole Kidman sang his song “One Day I’ll Fly Away” in the Baz Luhrmann film Moulin Rouge!.
Jazz In The Gardens is brought to you by the City Of Miami Gardens and is produced by Circle Of One Marketing. Last year close to 40,000 attended Jazz in the Gardens and enjoyed incredible performances by Kenny G, Babyface, Frankie Beverly, Roy Ayers, Erykah Badu, and a host of other world renown artists. Also appearing with Joe Sample on Saturday will be Mary J. Blige, Robin THicke, TeenaMarie, K’Jon, Rachel Brown, Kwan Debosse and Jon Saxx. Sunday’s lineup includes, David Sanborn, Cassanra Wilson, John Legend, Boys II Men, Melanie Fiona, Eric Roberson and Jovie.
The City of Miami Gardens is pleased to announce the star-studded lineup for the 5th Annual “Jazz in the Gardens” hosted by #1 rated, nationally syndicated radio personality Tom Joyner, taking place on Saturday, March 20th and Sunday, March 21st at Dolphin (Landshark) Stadium, 2269 Dan Marino Blvd, Miami Gardens, Florida 33056.
Confirmed artists include the queen of R&B, Mary J. Blige; Grammy award-winning singer/songwriter, John Legend; R&B crooner, Robin Thicke; funk/R&B diva, Teena Marie; 90’s R&B/pop super group, Boyz II Men; Grammy nominated R&B vocalist, Melanie Fiona; jazz chanteuse, Cassandra Wilson; saxophone king, David Sanborn; already classic newcomer, K’Jon; and famed pianist, keyboarder and founding member of the Jazz Crusaders, Joe Sample. Local artist names will be released soon.
Jazz in the Gardens, a two-day weekend festival is now in its fifth year and has grown to be one of the top cultural events in America. The jazz festival delivers a diverse mix of music genres and mixes jazz, pop, R&B, Neo-soul and Caribbean flavors, having something to offer all music aficionados at an affordable price.
“I am proud to proclaim “Jazz in the Gardens” as an undeniable premier stop on the national festival circuit. With audiences coming from international and domestic markets, it has become a major destination event for anyone seeking the combined ambience of fabulous music, sunshine, great food, shopping and beautiful people all in one setting,” says Shirley Gibson, Mayor Miami Gardens.
The 4th Annual Jazz in the Gardens shattered expected ticket sales, enjoying an attendance of almost 40,000, more than double the sales of the 2008 festival. In 2009, the “Jazz in the Gardens” crowd enjoyed performances by Kenneth ‘Babyface’ Edmonds, Kenny G, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, Erykah Badu, Common, Roy Ayers, Jonathan Butler, Will Downing, and Angelique Kidjo. This year’s line-up raises the bar yet again!
For more information on the highly-anticipated 5th Annual “Jazz in the Gardens” Hosted by Tom Joyner, go to http://www.jazzinthegardens.com or contact the City of Miami Gardens at 1-877-640-5299. All media inquiries should be directed to Circle of One Marketing at 305.576.3790.
The City of Miami Gardens was incorporated on May 13, 2003, as the 33rd city in Miami-Dade County. At a population of approximately 10,000, it is the third largest city in Miami-Dade County. Miami Gardens is a solid, working and middle class community of unique diversity. It is the largest predominantly African-American municipality in the State of Florida and boasts many Caribbean residents. In 2007, the City hosted the 41st annual Super Bowl. The City recently hosted the 2009 college BCS championship game and in 2010, will host the 44th Super Bowl.
For general information on the festival, visit http://www.jazzinthegardens.com or call the event hotline at: 305-622-8043. For vendor and sponsor opportunities, contact Vendor Express at 954-275-3092. All media inquiries should be directed to Circle of One Marketing at 305.576.3790.
Brooklyn-born singer/songwriter Will Downing’s career extends over some two decades. With these valuable years under his belt, Downing has gotten better lyrically and excelled musically. He brings a very unique style to his ballads and his music could be classified as R&B, Soul, Smooth Jazz or Adult Contemporary. Lyrically he is a masterful and gifted writer and vocally he has an extremely distinct and accomplished sound, both of which is a winning combination for the “long haul” needed to succeed as an artist.
Downing has earned his keeps on the musical sound stage as he surely did not arrive on a silver platter overnight. After working behind the scenes with 1980s club producer King Arthur Baker and songbird Jennifer Holiday, Downing ventured out on his own to work on his solo project. His self-titled debut album (“Will Downing’) was released in 1988. Since 1988 Downing has presented his music and engaging live performances to hundreds of fans worldwide. He has toured extensively in Europe and the US, with venues ranging from intimate club settings to large outdoor concerts and music festivals. Will Downing’s music has been consistent and his signature brassy bedroom voice has coupled with female vocalists like of Phyllis Hyman, Chante Moore and Rachel Farrell. He has collaborated with the like of Gerald Albright and Jonathan Butler and appeared on stage with George Duke, Jonathan Butler, Art Porter, Regina Belle and Lee Ritenour among other jazz greats.
Downing has given his fans the pleasure of listening to his rather seductive voice blended with musical arrangements which makes his music on even comparison to the late Barry White as far as love ballads are concerned. Famed music producer Rex Rideout has been a staple on quite a number of his albums. The Lyrics from songs like “Do You Still Love Me”, “ Don’t Talk To Me Like That”, ”Million Ways” and “After Tonight” could be the topics taught in the Love 101 class for men or women at the local college. The lyrics cut deeply into you love conscience, forcing you to be “perfect in love” or simply to try be.
Will Downing to his fans is this one consummate music professional, who did not disappoint, and is considered to be an invincible giant in the music business. But two years ago, when we all found out that he was ill; it was a reality check no one was willing to cash. Downing was diagnosed with Polymyositis a muscular inflammatory disease which took over his life as he would have known it. He was hospitalized for a long period of time and faced the biggest challenge of his life. But the disease did not overcome him totally; as he fought back with courage and faith and mustered up the energy to record his latest album entitled “After Tonight”. While fulfilling a promise to his fans in South Florida at the recently concluded Miami Gardens “Jazz In The Gardens” music festival. Downing stated that he was happy to have recovered from the illness; he said it was a pleasure to play in front of his fans, who were very disappointed when he had to cancel his appearance for last year’s Jazz In The Gardens. Downing also spoke candidly about his illness and the making of the After Tonight album. He spoke of the challenges he faced being in a wheel chair and while doing the vocals for some of the tracks on After Tonight. But all this courage has paid off for him, as he is back on tour and working in the studio. As to his performance at Jazz In The Gardens, he completed a red hot set and was every bit animated like the Will of old.
Downing will wind down promotion of the After Tonight album to focus on the completion and upcoming release of his latest recording entitled “Classique” which is due “to drop” on or about June 24, 2009. Will also revealed that he is undecided as to which song he will release as a single from Classique. Judging from his repertoire of musical hits, fans will not be disappointed. While we are all eagerly awaiting his next record, let enjoy cuts from “After Tonight” like So Amazing, After Tonight, Satisfy You and All I Need Is You. No doubt you will realize that those are my favorite cuts from the album, so go ahead and decide on yours.
Ever since I can remember I have always respected Kenny G as a renowned saxophonist with exceptional talent. So much so, that I now own every single one of his CDs, and listen to them on my MP3 player on regular rotation. However after my very first time seeing Kenny G live in concert a few years ago in West Palm Beach, Florida, I became a loyalist to the man, his music and his extraordinary on stage craft and showmanship. The West Palm Beach concert has left a musical mark with me, because of the element of surprise which awaited the jazz fans in attendance. They were treated to one of Kenny G’s most nostalgic and creative performances. At that concert, when he was introduced, we were all expecting him to appear on stage, instead he was transported in a bucket-lift floating above the crowd while performing his opening number. From that day forward, I never looked at his concerts as just another performance, as that bucket-lift entrance prepared me for what was to come in yet another Kenny G extravaganza in Miami Gardens, Florida.
Fast forward three concerts since my West Palm Beach Kenny G experience and enters the Miami Gardens Jazz In The Gardens music festival, held on the Dolphins Stadium grounds on March 28-29, 2009. When I found out that Kenny G was scheduled to perform on Jazz in the Gardens this year, I immediately cleared my calendar, as I knew that would be a date I would not miss. An evening with Kenny G automatically takes you out of the reality of being single, as seeing him in concert gives me the sense of intimacy and the feeling that he is playing the sax just for me.
Jazz In The Gardens is now in its fourth year and the organizers have booked several national and international artists over the years, but to me, and maybe I am bias, Kenny G was one of the best acts yet. Last year the O’Jays, KEM and George Benson all brought their A game to Jazz In The Gardens, but this time center stage belonged to Kenny G. So on Sunday March 29, 2009, Miami Gardens, Florida was sure ready to hear the “G-Man” throw down some melodies on the grounds of the Dolphins Stadium just west of I-95. The festival which got off to a great start on Saturday, March 28th with appearances from Roy Ayers, Will Downing, Erykah Badu, Common and Anthony Hamilton, all of whom were nothing less than electrifying. Sunday’s lineup of acts included South African Grammy Award winning recording artist Jonathan Butler, New York-based Grammy Award winning Angelique Kidjo (who was born in Benin and raised in Paris), Kenny G, Babyface and Frankie Beverly and Maze. Angelique Kidjo who did not miss a beat after taking the stage from Jonathan Butler, proving that she would have been a hard act to follow, but the stage she kept hot for Kenny G did not simmer one bit afterwards. After the Kidjo set change, it was time to hear “The Moment”, G-Bop and other hits from the Kenny G collection. The crowd of about 40,000 people were on their feet cheering on Kenneth Gorelick who is affectionate known as Kenny G to his millions of fans worldwide. There was a musical prelude right after his introduced and the jumbo television screen left of the stage displayed random shots of the screaming crowd, which I know now was a distraction for the concert goers, because right in the middle of all this, Kenny G was elevated from a stage right in the middle of the screaming fans. The applause from the crowd got louder as he played the ever popular song “Silhouette”. But then something magical happened, the rain started to drizzle and came down harder as patrons scrambled to get plastic rain gear which they had brought in anticipation of the “liquid sunshine”, but Kenny G, who seemed not to be hindered took the concert goers through one extraordinary breathing exercise. He exited the make shift stage, on a walk through the crowd holding a note for about two minutes, which was the time it took him to walk to the main stage. And without taking a breather, he went right into his next track. While the rain came down, the patrons were contented watching this amazing musician play up a storm on stage. As Kenny played his set, the rain subsided, and it was midway through his set before the G-Man spoke to his screaming fans, introducing us to another side of his musical persona (his sense of humor), showing pictures of his band members as they were in the 1970s, wearing long hair and in the case of percussionist a huge afro. He even showed a photo-shopped picture of himself depicting an underwear clad Kenny with an extremely defined and “ripped” physique.
Kenny continued his set by playing songs from his prior albums and got into a couple of songs from the latest album entitled “Rhythm and Romance”, an album he described as having a Latin flare. The track Sax-O-Loco is blend of Salsa with Meringue, basically a sax gone loco, the track is very easy to dance to with a very catchy hook. From my standpointed dolled in my rain jacket, I was just simply captivated by the calm demeanor that Kenny displayed while ripping through hit after hit. I was very content and felt right at home from my viewpoint, as the music was right, the band members were having fun being in sync with the G-Man. To me at that point nothing else mattered. I had locked everything else out, because as far as I know within myself, I was on a date with Kenny G. He did not bring wine or flowers, but he brought me food for my musical soul.
Our date concluded when Kenny G appeared for his post show press conference. I had the chance to ask him if he had played play golf while being here. Kenny G who is a scratch golfer, spends a lot of time playing in Pro-Am tournaments, said he that he did not get a chance play, as he only had time for the show this time around. Kenny was also interested to know how Tiger was doing at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, so after I gave him the blow by blow of how Tiger won, he jokingly told me that I had ruined his evening. Kenny G further stated that he was excited to play at Jazz In the Gardens, loved playing in the rain and looks forward to come back in the future. Hmm. A fitting end to a wonderful night with the G-Man. So until next time when we meet again Kenny, I will dance to that beautiful track called “Tango” that I am convinced you wrote especially for me…
On Sunday, March 29, 2009, patrons gathered on the grounds at the Dolphin Stadium for the Fourth Annual Jazz In The Gardens and in the process, they were treated to the musical stylings of Angelique Kidjo. The Grammy Award winning Angelique Kidjo who performed following the red hot Jonathan Butler, is herself a sizzling hot singer-songwriter who was born in Contonou, Benin. She brought her show to the people of South Florida with her high energy stage presence, mezmerizing voice and a barrage of fancy footworks. Kidjo danced her way through her set and invited the crowd to participate likewise. She belted hits after hits in her native language and had about 40,000 screaming fans singing the hooks from songs like Senamou and Gimme Shelter. Angelique, who says she grew up listening to singers like James Brown , Otis Redding, Jimi Hendrix, Steve Wonder and Carlos Santana, did not disappoint the fans as she showcased her versatality and soulful swagger. She paid tribute to the Rolling Stones displaying her ability to hang with the bad boys of rock and roll. Concert goers were treated to her diverse musical renditions, which ranged from rock and roll, reggae and even salsa. By the end of her performance, she was already a household name in South Florida. This diva came to play and held nothing back.
Kidjo’s musical career tells a story of one determined individual who fought for her name and fame. By the time she was six, Kidjo was performing with her mother’s theatre troupe, giving her an early appreciation for traditional music and dance. She started singing in her school band Les Sphinx and found success as a teenager with her adaptation of Miriam Makeba’s “Les Trois Z” which played on national radio. She recorded the album Pretty with the Cameroonian producer Ekambi Brilliant and her brother Oscar. It featured the songs Ninive, Gbe Agossi and a tribute to the singer Bella Bellow, one of her role models. The success of the album allowed her to tour all over West Africa. Continuing political conflicts in Benin prevented her from being an independent artist in her own country and led her to relocate to Paris in 1983.
While working various day jobs to pay for her tuition, Angelique studied music at the CIM, a reputable Jazz school in Paris where she met and married musician and producer Jean Hebrail with whom she has composed most of her music. She started out as a backup singer in local bands. In 1985, she became the frontsinger of the known Euro-African jazz/rock band Jasper van’t Hof’s Pili Pili. Three Pili Pili studio albums followed: Jakko (1987) Be In Two Minds (1988, produced by Marlon Klein) and Hotel Babo (1990). By the end of the 1980s, she had become one of the most popular live performers in Paris and recorded a solo album called Parakou for the Open Jazz Label.
She was then discovered in Paris by Island Records founder Chris Blackwell who signed her in 1991. She recorded four albums for Island until Chris Blackwell’s departure from the label. In 2000 she was signed in New York by Columbia Records for which she recorded two albums. Her musical influences include the Afropop, Caribbean zouk, Congolese rumba, jazz, gospel, and Latin styles; as well as her childhood idols Bella Bellow, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Jimi Hendrix, Miriam Makeba and Carlos Santana. She has made her own renditions of George Gershwin’s Summertime, Jimi Hendrix’s Voodoo Child, and The Rolling Stones’ Gimme Shelter, and has collaborated with the likes of Dave Matthews and the Dave Matthews Band, Kelly Price, Branford Marsalis, Robbie Nevil, Carlos Santana, Herbie Hancock and Cassandra Wilson. Kidjo’s hits include the songs “Agolo”, “We We”, “Adouma” “Wombo Lombo” “Afirika”,”Batonga” and her version of “Malaika”. Kidjo is fluent in Fon, French, Yoruba, and English and sings in all four languages; she also has her own personal language which includes words that serve as songtitles such as Batonga. Malaika is a song sung in Swahili language. She often utilizes Benin’s traditional Zilin vocal technique and jazz vocalese.
Jazz In The Gardens took Angelique on a journey to Miami Gardens, which was rather fitting, as she recorded her first album entitled “Logozo” for Island Records between Miami and Paris, working with Miami Sound Machine drummer Joe Galdo. That album featured Branford Marsalis and Manu DiBango on saxophones. it was released worldwide in 1991 and reached number one on the Billboard World Music chart. Music videos for the singles We We and Batonga were released and Angelique made her first world tour, appearing at many festivals and headlining the Olympia Hall in Paris on October 31, 1992.
In 2002 Angelique traveled to Salvador de Bahia to start recording the Axe percussion grooves for this album inspired by the Afro-Brazilian culture. She worked with famous songwriters Carlinhos Brown and Vinicius Cantuaria. On the Brazilian version of the album, Gilberto Gil joined her on Refavela and Daniella Mercury on Tumba. Dave Matthews appears on the song Iwoya.
Angelique Kidjo released an album titled Djin Djin on May 1, 2007. Many guests appear on the album including Josh Groban, Carlos Santana, Alicia Keys, Joss Stone, Peter Gabriel, Amadou and Mariam, Ziggy Marley, and Branford Marsalis. The title, Djin Djin, refers to the sound of a bell in Africa that greets each new day. The album is produced by Tony Visconti, who is known for his work with David Bowie, Morrissey, and T. Rex, among others. Djin Djin won a Grammy for Best Contemporary World Music album and a NAACP Image Award for Outstanding World Music album.
Will Downing who is definitely a crowd “teaser and pleaser” is working to promote his latest album – “After Tonight”. The number thirteen is never a lucky one, but Will Downing has proved it to be his lucky charm. Even though he has enjoyed significant success with his other albums, album number thirteen was the one, where he had to put more than just creativity and his raspy voice to work.
Downing suffered a setback, after being diagnosed with an auto-immune disease known as “Polymyositis”. Polymyositis is an inflammatory muscular disease, which causes severe muscle weakness and fatigue. But instead of succumbing to this illness, he managed to put together one of his best album to date, by exhibiting the courage and determination that we all hope we had in our darkest hour. This album entitled “After Tonight” is jammed packed with his repertoire of classic ballads coupled with his silky smooth voice. After Tonight is not just your regular Will Downing album, but a compilation of songs that will definitely stir your imagination and help you to fall in love over and over again. The ten-song compilation has musical arrangement, melodies, and vocals made for each other. There is a song for what ever mood you are in on this album.
Downing reunited with his long time co-producer, Rex Rideout, collaborated on a musical journey which has led to the success of this monster undertaking. The work he put in on this album was extremely challenging, but it is evident from nothing musically vocally was left behind. The Skip Scarborough penned classic “No One Can Love You More” made famous by the late Phyllis Hyman, is one of two cover tunes which Downing performed on the compilation. This rendition featured sax man Gerald Albright, a long time friend. The other cover tune is the Bill Withers classic “You Can’t Smile it Away” which features Kirk Whalum. Downing’s wife, Audrey Wheeler-Downing and Noel Goring teamed up with Will to compose the track “God Is So Amazing.” Knowing all that Will Downing endured while making this album, this track sums it all up. Will Downing performance in Miami Gardens this Saturday is a must see.