Everette Harp – First Love

Do you remember when you first fell in love? The magic, rush of emotions, the euphoria and excitement of it all! People fall in and out of love everyday but there are some people and some things that remain true loves forever. For celebrated saxophonist Everette Harp, jazz is a first love and enduring love. “I remember when I first discovered John Coltrane’s Soul Trane and Dave Brubeck’s Time Out albums in my parents’ record collection. This was the music that made me first fall in love with jazz,” recalls Harp, whose own music has made millions of fans around the world fall in love with jazz.

Although Harp’s first love was ‘traditional’ jazz, he has made his mark as one of the best-selling and most sought after ambassador’s of contemporary jazz for close to two decades. His soulful and trademark blend of jazz, R&B, funk and pop have made him a favorite. With an illustrious career that has allowed him to collaborate with everyone from Aretha Franklin, Anita Baker, Luther Vandross and Patti Labelle to George Duke, Herbie Hancock, Billy Joel and Kenny Loggins, Harp has left an indelible imprint on the scene with his own unique, muscular and soulful approach.

His work on TV has brought his saxophone into the homes of millions who have heard him playing the theme songs for such popular TV shows as Entertainment Tonight and Soul Train. He also holds the distinction of being a former member of the posse on the Arsenio Hall Show. The eloquent saxman can be heard hosting his own weekly radio show, Smooth Jazz Odyssey with Everette Harp on WLOQ in Orlando, FL.

First Love, Harp’s new and third Shanachie Entertainment CD is truly a labor of love and was inspired by opportunities he has had over the past year and a half to play both contemporary jazz and mainstream jazz gigs in the US and abroad.

“I have had the chance to play with some incredible musicians in a variety of venues. All of which led me, inexorably, to this recording,” shares Harp. “With First Love I was given the opportunity to explore some of the elements of jazz that made me crave to learn more about this wonderful music. And while I feel like I am starting over again as a novice, that is a welcome sacrifice in regaining some of the excitement I felt some years ago. The possibility of growth is again my goal!”

Shanachie Entertainment’s Head of Jazz A&R, Danny Weiss, says, “Everette Harp is a true artist. He is a ‘musician’s musician,’ at home in every genre of jazz, contemporary, straight-ahead, fusion and R&B, yet he maintains his listenability and appeals to a wide audience. He raises the bar on every level.”

Everette Harp’s passion and adoration for his first love permeate every note of his new recording, which was co-produced by George Duke. From the album’s toe-tappin’, funky and swinging opener “The Council of Nicea” (which Harp co-wrote with pianist Mark Stephens) to its closer, a romantic and tender treatment of the Gershwin classic “Our Love is Here to Stay,”

First Love is a testament to Everette Harp’s sensitivity and maturity as a musician to transcend boundaries. Comfortable in any musical context, Harp’s compositional prowess shines through, as does his agile, robust, thoughtful and melodic horn playing. First Love features the groove heavy “Before You Leave” showcasing the rhythm section of George Duke on Fender Rhodes, bassist James Genus, drummer Terri Lynn Carrington and guitarist Dwight Sills.

Everette and company set the tune up with a laid-back groove and then launch into a hard-swinging scorcher in which Everette’s tenor takes flight quoting “Softly as a Morning Sunrise.” George Duke’s “Soul Fries” is exactly what the title suggests, a hearty dose of some grease and sustenance – pure soul all the way. The core band is augmented by the horns of trumpeter Michael “Patches” Stewart and trombonist Reggie Young. Stewart and Young also provide support on Harp’s homage to his Texas roots and like his predecessors, Arnett Cobb, Illinois Jacquet and David “Fathead” Newman, Harp does the Lone State proud.

Also included on First Love is “Blossom,” which was co-written by Mark Stephens and is dark and introspective ballad and “Departure,” which George Duke and Everette Harp wrote together. “Departure” is a free spirited ‘take no prisoners’ kind of track highlighting Harp on the soprano as well as Duke on the Rhodes and percussionist Lenny Castro. Duke and Harp also teamed up to write the title track with perfectly illustrates Harp creating one of his signature singable lyrical melodies and irresistible danceable grooves.

A special high point on First Love is Everette Harp’s sublime rendition of John Coltrane’s “Central Park West” from Trane’s landmark 1960 session Coltrane’s Sound. Together with George Duke, James Genus and Terri Lynn, Harp captures the serenity and picturesque beauty that Coltrane imagnines in the original rendition.

When smooth jazz became all about the groove, incorporating more R&B and hip-hop influences in the mid-90s, the Houston-born saxman—a Baptist preacher’s kid who was raised in church and weaned on gospel—found himself ahead of the curve. Breaking through with his enormously popular, critically acclaimed self-titled debut in 1992, Everette Harp quickly became one of the most dynamic solo performers in the explosive realm where R&B meets smooth jazz. Adept at playing it all – a sultry ballad, blistering up-tempo jazz classic or R&B dance track, Everette Harp has carved a niche for himself, staying true to the music he loves.

Source: Shanachie Records

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