God bless America, God bless Pieces of a Dream. Really, did they already release 17 albums? Time flies and seldom is a group so productive like POAD. I remember, when I bought their first album Pieces Of A Dream in 1981. Followed by We Are One (1982), Imagine This (1983), Joyride (1986), Makes You Wanna (1988), their Disco-styled album Bout Dat Time (1989), In Flight (1993), Goodbye Manhattan (1995), The Best Of Pieces of a Dream (1996), Pieces (1997), Ahead to the Past (1999), Acquainted With The Night (2001), Sensual Embrace (2001), Love’s Silhouette (2002), No Assembly Required (2004), Pillow Talk (2006) and now Soul Intent (2009) – a huge collection.
Time for keyboardist James Lloyd and drummer Curtis Harmon, the founding duo and driving force behind the enduring contemporary jazz collective, to remember the past and a look back. “One of my main goals was to go back to the original approach to making a Pieces record,” says Lloyd. “The idea was to bring everyone into the studio at the same time so we could all work together in real time. A lot of people really get into that vintage sound from our first three albums, that period from ’81 to ’83. I figured if we went back to those old-style methods of recording and writing, then that element of vintage Pieces might show up in the music itself. It was an opportunity to bounce ideas off each other in a way that we could never have done had we recorded it separately. Five heads are definitely better than one.”
Beside James and Curtis was the studio filled with Tony Watson, Jr. (saxophone), Martin Walters (programming), Randy Bowland (guitar), Bennie Sims (keyboards, programming, bass), Eddie Baccus, Jr. (saxophone), Rohn Lawrence (guitar), David Dyson (bass), Joe Cunningham (saxophone). I assume the musicians had several sessions to avoid an overcrowded studio.
The first tune Sway sounds familiar. On a relaxed sax background James Lloyd develops his elegant piano style. The combination of sax and piano is obviously the Pieces\’ trademark, shown in Vision Accomplished. While Tony Watson delivers the sweet melody James deliciously improvised on his keys.