Doc Powell - 97th & Columbus


Doc Powell grew up in Spring Valley, a suburb of NY. He soon arrived in New York in the desire to pursue the life of a musician. He moved to Queens and was introduced to Mickells on 97th & Columbus, a jazz Club on the upper westside of Manhattan. 

"Anyone from Art Blackey and the Jazz Messenger and George Benson to your more seasoned studio musicians played in this club," Powell recalls. "The club had entertainment seven days a week. That was the place record companies went to hear who the top studio musicians were."

This album is dedicated to Doc's heritage, his roots and musical neighborhood. It's Doc's seventh contemporary jazz project and his debut release on Heads Up International / DPR Music Group.

The album starts with The Flavour, a Latin influenced piece showcasing Doc's prowess in playing electric classical guitars. Fourplay member Harvey Mason (drums) and Grammy award winner Marcus Miller (bass) are his dream-partners. 

The Bobby Womack tune Breezin' is a tribute to George Benson, the legendary pioneer of contemporary jazz to whom Doc has a strong connection. "When I finished high school, George Benson signed a letter of recommendation for me to go to college," Doc reminds. "Ever since we met, he's been a big supporter of my career and my playing." Doc's playing is close to the original but he adds ornaments and grace-notes. Patrice Rushen on acoustic piano and Sekou Bunch on bass are the right players for this refinement.

The title track 97th & Columbus is featuring saxophonist Ron Brown who adds a choir of alto, tenor and soprano saxophone. Ron Brown is a native of Austin, Texas, performing in such bands as Extreme Heat, Steam Heat, and several others. In 1998, Ron formed his own label, ManKind Records, and in April of 1999, he released his first CD under the group name URBAN JAZZ NETWORK, entitled URBAN DREAMS, a celebration of friendship and song. Harvey Mason is the master on drums again. 

Two Hearts is a slow guitar tune where the romantic is suffering a little under the hard drum programming.

One of EWF's parade piece is Sun Goddess. This tune written by Ramsey Lewis is probably played in by the best musicians contemporary jazz can offer: Doc Powell (electric classical guitar), Marcus Miller (electric bass), George Duke (Rhodes) framed by an awesome sounding choir and string arrangement. "Ramsey is a very important musician and innovative leader and I always wanted to record this song because it is one of my favorites," Doc comments.

With Thank You Doc reaches the romantic vibes. A melodious tune with all the necessary ingredients.

Let's Jam is tailored on Patricia Rushen (piano), Harvey Mason (drums) and Grammy nominated saxophonist Bennie Maupin. Bennie Maupin recorded with Horace Silver, Lee Morgan, McCoy Tyner, Roy Haynes, Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock. Herbie Hancock's headhunters on which Bennie played the sax was sold more then 1 million copies.

Ode To Chet is a tribute to "Mister Guitar" Chet Atkins. Atkins was a master player on guitar. His domain was originally country music before he moved to jazz with his album "Work It Out With Chet Atkins", in 1983. He did return to country on occasion, particularly on duet albums with Mark Knopfler and Jerry Reed. Doc 's ode is full of respect and honor.

Upward Bound shows that Doc isn't only a perfect guitarist but also a gifted arranger and composer. His guitar is in the limelight.

One of the most covered pieces in contemporary jazz is certainly Marvin Gaye's What's Going On. Remember cover versions of Everette Harp (1997), Slim Man , Pegasus Project, Azymuth and many more. Doc's interpretation is a guitar highlight. The background vocals and the vocal arrangements were made by Luther Vandross. Doc gained his first international exposure with Luther. He was also involved in many of Luther's biggest albums with international success as "Forever", "For Always", For Love", Stop To Love" or "Give Me the Reason". "Luther always surrounded himself with the best musicians and was blessed to have some great personalities who knew how to support his career. Some of the greatest musicians aren't necessarily the best supporting players," Doc explains.

Heads Up International has gained a multi-seller. Congratulation!