Doc Powell - Cool Like That


How can one attract listener's attention for a new contemporary jazz release nowadays? First of all don't copy yourself and your fellow musicians of the smooth jazz genre. Be unique and inventive. Don't be predictable. Doc Powell knows his craft. He played with many icons of the R&B elite, Aretha Franklin, Teddy Pendergrass, Jeffrey Osborne, Ashford & Simpson, Dionne Warwick and cjazz greats, Grover Washington Jr., Bob James, McCoy Tyner, Roy Hargrove, Marcus Miller, Patrice Rushen and more. So did he avoid this trap of repetition?

The answer is an overwhelming "Yes". Doc Powell isn't fixed on one style. "My goal was simple this time, just make a groove-oriented record that people could snap their fingers to. The title track was the first song I worked on and it set the tone for the entire album." Push begins like a common smooth jazz guitar track but quickly Doc Powell reveals his artistry on acoustic guitar. Kirk Whalum's sax play let's your ears ring.

Cool Like That reminds of George Benson's style during his best time especially when Doc Powell is scatting along while he is playing guitar.

The first time I heard Listen Up I was brooding about where I already had heard that track. This tune is radio-like. Mark Ledford on trumpet and Michael Lington on sax adds the right brass flavor.

Sweet G? No it's not Kenny G. who 's playing the sax part but Ron Brown. Doc Powell's acoustic guitar is very smooth and sugared like a sweet cherry. This tune is a dedication to his mother ("the sweetest person in the world"). You did understand?

Soul Cry Out is one of these tunes on which Doc Powell plays all instruments. Guitar, strings, piano and percussion. 

A reminiscence to the Beatles is Let It Be. Powell's hip hop version is perfectly accompanied by Michael Bereal on Wurlitzer piano. With this humming along the song gets a certain gospel character.

You Mean More To Me is featuring Gary Taylor. Known as the "Master of the Quiet Storm," Gary Taylor played as a bassist sideman on several albums during the 1960s,'70s and '80s. He also wrote for Anita Baker and a lot others. He has released seven albums: GT, Compassion (1987), Take Control (1991), Square One (1993), The Mood Of Midnight (1995), Love Dance (1998) and Under the Nightlight (2001). One can classify this song as Adult Soul with an instrumental enhancement.

The African flavored Hatujambo is featuring the Moroccan drums of Munyungo Jackson. "The tune reflects the story of a slave ship coming across the ocean, with drums as the means of personal communication", says Powell. Hatujambo is a word in Swahili, the Kenyan language. It means "We are fine." in answer to the question "Hamjambo? " ("How are you all doing?"). I especially like the epic intro which gives much room to fantasy.

To The East is an excursion into jazz fusion area. Mark Ledford shines with his muted trumpet. Very expressive: Reggie Hamilton's bass solo. Reggie is known for his work as bassist for many stars like Barbara Streisand, Ricky Martin, Randy Newman, Toni Braxton, Aaron Neville, Seal, Bette Midler, Kitaro and Michael Bolton. Reggie has played many different axes over the years, but he now swears by the Fender Jazz. What a jam!

Let It Be as a vocal version is showcasing Michael Bereal's wonderful voice. Michael Bereal is known for his work in the contemporary gospel world with artists like Donnie McClurkin, Bishop Paul S. Morton Sr. or Mary Mary.

Last not least More To Me finds my special interest. Doc Powell plays besides his guitar a really phat acoustic bass. Fernando Pullum plays an underrated part on his muted trumpet. Fernando Pullum a music teacher at Washington Preparatory High School (LA)  played with many jazz legends including Louie Bellson, Buddy Collette, Wynton Marsalis, Lionel Hampton, Ernie Andrews, Etta James and Barbara Morrison. He is also responsible for the horn arrangements of "Muppets from Space".

Doc Powell did it again. A milestone in contemporary jazz. Top notch music!