Posts Tagged ‘ Skinny Hightower ’

Skinny Hightower – Blue Moon

Rarely does a musician release a double album packed with such a large number of songs. In the case of the keyboardist Skinny Hightower, there is a special reason he openly and honestly describes on his website.

After the release of his album Retrospect he fell into a crisis of meaning about his musical life so far and a deep depression held him captive. Because of this creative crisis he had no motivation for further work. He spent much time with his wife’s record collection, which included albums by War, Isaac Hayes, Earth, Wind & Fire, Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder, Johnny Mathis, Maze, The Temptations, Millie Jackson, Marvin Gaye, and many others.

However, he did not leave it at listening but analyzed them and was inspired by them. In the end he regained his courage to face life and began to compose. So he recorded a song every day, even if it took all day. In the end, he had finished recording over a hundred songs. With the help of a team he selected the songs that moved him the most until finally 24 remained. They form the basis for his new album Blue Moon (2020).

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Skinny Hightower – Blue Moon

As dynamic and infectious as the hits that made composer, keyboardist and producer Skinny Hightower a force in urban jazz are, the deeply emotional, multi-faceted story behind his extraordinary new album Blue Moon lets us know that the artist himself was destined for bigger, funkier, more soul-satisfying realms.

His fans can certainly delight in the vast, 70’s influenced fusion of R&B, funk, jazz, atmospheric Curtis Mayfield-Isaac Hayes sensuality and blaxploitation craziness without knowing the long version of his musical and spiritual transformation. In a nutshell, Hightower was doubting the meaning of his life and his creative purpose. Digging into his wife’s collection of 70’s soul albums helped cure his depression, stopped his self-questioning in its tracks and set his soul free. Channeling these muses and fusing them into his own, gospel and jazz grown sensibilties, he wrote over 100 songs and developed 24 of them into a double CD (unheard of these days) that is more like an inspiring musical event than just an album release.

Blue Moon is probably best experienced as a continuous immersive flow that captures the stream of consciousness Hightower experienced when he felt his spirit unshackling. Yet for fans old and new who prefer consumption in smaller doses, a few remarkable entry points present themselves along the way. The most logical of these is “Bittersweet,” the high energy, hard grooving, horn-fired (and super melodic) retro-keyboard jam (and first single) that captures the overall relentless jubilation of the project. The thick bottomed “Mr. Sims” and skin-tight, boisterous and gospelly, organ fired “Holy Funk”” similarly capture this nonstop wild key and hi-hat abandon with punchy horn accents. Continue reading

Skinny Hightower – Retrospect

American jazz pianist, drummer, bass player, and producer Skinny Hightower is a smooth jazz powerhouse. After his debut album Cloud Nine (2016) and his label debut Emotions on Trippin ‘N’ Rhythm Records (2017) his new album Retrospect (2018) is the logical step towards his declared goal to achieve his greatness in the smooth jazz genre.

The credits of this album are briefly summarized: Skinny is the multi-instrumental genius with the focus on his Yamaha MX and P115 keyboards with organ, Fender Rhodes, explosive horn and string arrangements, flute, bass and deep percussion textures. Guest musicians are saxophonist Konstantin Klashtorni, guitarist Almon Johnson, drummer Nate Smith and vocalist Bebe Merrills.

Skinny Hightower reveals with pointed, powerful keystrokes on Sample That the music he stands for and which influenced him. Joe Sample, Bill Evans and Quincy Jones are his personal idols.

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Skinny Hightower – Retrospect

While we fans of smooth jazz love the music our favorite artists create for our enjoyment, we sometimes don’t stop to think about the pressure they must feel to keep generating those good vibes in ways that don’t simply copycat what they or others have done. This is especially true of artists like composer, producer, keyboardist and multi-instrumentalist Skinny Hightower, who scored a smash hit right out of the box with his #1 radio smash “Taboo” from his Trippin ‘N’ Rhythm debut Emotions. A musical risk taker by nature with an intense, military service enhanced work ethic, Hightower knew he had to create a follow-up that would not simply match, but surpass the magic of that album.

Hightower’s process of creating the amazingly diverse, dynamically melodic and richly textured 15 tracks of his new album Retrospect shows a fascinating progression from his initial instincts to the soulfully developed urban jazz masterpiece it became. He originally wanted to go way outside his comfort zone and produce a hip-hop/traditional jazz hybrid. Soon realizing that developing his solo career depended on his ability to resonate with listeners, he delved deeply into the work of his heroes (among them Joe Sample, Bill Evans and Quincy Jones). The keyboardist cites the diverse modal qualities Sample trademarked as the chief inspiration driving the vibe on Retrospect – most obviously on the opening track “Sample That,” which features deeply funky Crusadersesque chords and colorful riffs flowing freely throughout the soulful and buoyant tune.

The Sample influence is simply the foundation for an album that has all the pocket urban jazz sensibilities we love – lush, infectious melodies, sprinkles of cheerful improvisation, lighthearted grooves galore – but takes all those out into explorations that defy easy categorization. Driven by his mastery of his Yamaha MX and P115 keyboards, Hightower artfully and playfully builds on his piano and synth foundation with organ, Fender Rhodes and flute textures, explosive horn and string arrangements, bass and deep percussion textures.
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Skinny Hightower – Emotions

Although a practicing smooth jazz piano player Skinny Hightower prefers to listen to other styles of music like jazz and funk. That has yielded its first positive results. His debut album Cloud Nine (2016) received high acclaims. His second strike Emotions will be released on Trippin ‘N’ Rhythm Records May 26, 2017.

On his large foray into the smooth jazz genre he is accompanied by an armada of well known musicians such as Charlie Duran, Kool&Klean, Rock Hendricks (saxophone), Andrew Hawkley, Nick Colionne, David Stevens (guitars), Antonio Rivera (acoustic guitar), Julian Vaughn (bass), and Lin Rountree (trumpet, flugelhorn). Skinny Hightower performs on his sophomore project piano, drums, percussion, keyboards, bass and also serves the programming.

The album takes with Tender a fulminate start. The hypnotic rhythm creeps into your soul until it is a part of you. The melody is under constant energy between the magnetic poles Skinny on the keys and Charlie Duran on sax. The funky rhythm is also compelling pacemaker for the vigorous Emotions featuring Skinny, saxophonist Konstantin Klashtorni aka Kool&Klean and guitarist Andrew Hawkley in competitive overdrive.

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