Pieces Of A Dream – Just Funkin’ Around

The story of Pieces Of A Dream is a tale of destiny and brotherhood. Picture three starry-eyed fanatical teen musicians who manage to get discovered by Mister Magic (Grover Washington, Jr.), become teen sensations and go on to join the pantheon of musical wonders from the “City Of Brotherly Love” that includes Gamble and Huff, Patti Labelle, McCoy Tyner, and The Roots. Dubbed “the Steely Dan of Smooth Jazz” by Allaboutjazz.com and heralded by the legendary Count Basie as “a tough act to follow” Pieces Of A Dream, remains one of the most satisfying, exhilarating and sought-after bands in Contemporary Jazz. They have toured the world, sold over one million albums, and scored both Smooth Jazz and R&B radio hits along the way. Crowned “Pioneers of Smooth Jazz” by The Philadelphia Inquirer, Pieces Of A Dream has long been revered for their signature fusion of Jazz, R&B, Funk, Pop and Blues.

Their sweet and soulful grooves, energized solos and organic compositions have made them a favorite on the touring circuit and on the airwaves.  Last year, founding members, keyboardist James Lloyd and drummer Curtis Harmon celebrated the milestone of their 40th anniversary and their feet are still on the accelerator as they power forward to the release of their new CD Just Funkin’ Around (May 26, 2017).  On their newest effort, the band continues to prove that they are still at the top of their game and as inspired as ever. Curtis Harmon says, “Lasting forty years in this business confirms the fact that we are truly blessed. When you have fans that support you for as many years as our fans have, you can’t help but want to give them the best you’ve got and that’s what we’ve tried to do.” James Lloyd adds, “There is no stopping us now! In addition to the responsibility we feel towards our fans, Curtis and I also feel a duty to help the younger and future generations of Jazz to reach and exceed their goals the way the late, great Grover Washington Jr. did for us.”

Just Funkin’ Around highlights ten tracks of new and original music that build upon the soulful and rich legacy of Pieces Of A Dream’s trademark sounds. “When our fans hear Just Funkin’ Around, I hope that it inspires them to do what makes them happy; dance, sing, hum, or even just smile,” shares Harmon. “These songs are our gift to be shared from one ear to another.”  Just Funkin’ Around ceremoniously opens with the album’s first single “Right Back Atcha’” an in-the-pocket ear-catching tune.  Lloyd’s crisp piano licks dance atop Harmon’s mean drum groove and together they convey the message  ‘we came to get down!” Lloyd shares, “Some of the best things happen in the strangest ways. Curt and I wrote this in an artist tent minutes before a Pieces show and sang it into his phone. I had almost forgotten about it when he suggested it for the album.”

The CD’s title track is a soul-drenched bluesy number with an old-school party vibe propelled by Harmon’s driving rhythms, Lloyd’s swirling organ-like riffs and Tony Watson Jr.’s robust tenor.  Harmon says, “This is old school Pieces Funk! We are known for writing and performing Jazz, R&B and Funk. This song displays all three characteristics while giving an updated “Pieces Of A Dream” sound.

Lloyd describes Curtis Harmon’s original “Shaken, Not Stirred” as “James Bond meets Pieces Of A Dream.” The mysterious composition opens with a nasty breakbeat rhythm and serves up a gritty funk feel that instantly grabs you.  Just Funkin’ Around also explores the sensual side of Pieces Of A Dream with the song “Sensuosity,” showcasing James Lloyd’s virtuosic chops. “I do realize that the synth as a lead instrument is not currently prominent in Smooth Jazz, but maybe, just maybe, we can turn that around just a little bit,” confesses the pianist. “This one comes from that special place inside that’s always trying to get out.”  “Fast Lane” finds Pieces switching gears and traveling down a winding dance-inspired and EDM fueled road. The song, which Lloyd describes as “a bit of Black Eyed Peas fused with Pieces Of A Dream,” steadily builds with its syncopated rhythms, melodic wonder and pulsating groove.  Harmon adds, “This song is a very special blend of house music with a Smooth Jazz and Dance Club type flavor. This is a song everyone will enjoy.”

Also featured on Just Funkin’ Around is the majestic and polyrhythmic “A New Day,” highlighting George Granville on lead piano with Lloyd on additional keys. Amazingly, Granville adds this song to the Pieces songbook and it is the first composition he has ever written.  Harmon’s sultry “On The Move” and the affirmative “No Doubt” penned by bassist David Dyson, continue to add to the soulful mix.  “Let’s Do This” is a feel-good playful number and “Manhattan,” written by saxophonist Tony Watson Jr., brings the excursion to a rousing finale with a beautiful platform for the band to stretch out, offering picturesque solos that ebb and flow like a 24-hour stretch in the city that never sleeps.

James Lloyd and Curtis Harmon have been the nucleus of Pieces Of A Dream since its inception and played together as kids and members of the Ada Lewis Middle School jazz ensemble along with former member, bassist Cedric Napoleon.  Danny Harmon, Curtis’ father and a jazz musician himself, became their manager and had the guys listening to the Modern Jazz Quartet, Ahmad Jamal and Oscar Peterson as they developed their unique sound, blending their jazz roots with R&B, soul and funk.  Taking their name from the Stanley Turrentine song “Pieces of Dreams,” Pieces released three albums in quick succession, establishing its place in the world of Smooth Jazz:  Pieces Of A Dream (1981), We Are One (1982) and Imagine This (1983).  Those albums include some of their biggest early hits, including “Warm Weather,” “Mount Airy Groove” and “Fo Fi Fo.”     Pieces Of A Dream recorded their Shanachie debut, In The Moment, in 2013, followed by 2015’s All In.  Curtis Harmon concludes, “I thought we were lucky to have made it to a Silver Anniversary but now it seems like 50 years is right around the corner, not trying to rush it. So Pieces Fans, thank you so much for all the love and support for the past forty years and now let’s go for the gold.”

Just Funkin’ Around is ready for pre-order at Amazon.com.

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