Monday, June 21, 2021

BRIAN SIMPSON · ALL THAT MATTERS

Shanachie Entertainment
June 25, 2021


“The title of my new recording was purely inspired by the events of the past year and a half,” reflects acclaimed pianist, composer and producer Brian Simpson. “My family and loved ones became more important to me than ever. The pandemic brought all that matters into focus.” On June 25, 2021, Shanachie Entertainment will release a milestone recording from Simpson, his tenth recording as a leader. Known for his ability to sculpt timeless love songs, soulful party anthems and breath-taking melodies, Simpson delivers all this and more on his new album All That Matters. From penning the #1 hit “The First Time” for R&B group Surface to touring with Janet Jackson, George Duke and Dave Koz, Simpson’s golden touch has long made him one of the go-to guys in the industry.

All That Matters is an amalgamation of influences that are close to Brain Simpson’s heart: Jazz, R&B, Funk and Soul. It’s a joyous celebration of life and a shining demonstration of Simpson’s ongoing quest for the ultimate sound. “I will forever be in search of the perfect song, with the perfect melody, perfectly performed,” confesses the pianist. The recording process for All That Matters was dramatically different for Simpson. The absence of touring during the pandemic afforded Simpson the opportunity to focus solely on recording. He eagerly jumped into the project and surrounded himself by friends to foster the compositional process; guitarist and labelmate Steve Oliver and keyboardists Nicholas Cole and Oliver Wendell. The musicians collaborated remotely at first, and were later able to join forces in person. As the album progressed Simpson also enlisted saxophonists Najee and Steve Alanis, trumpeter Ron King, drummers Michael White and Tony Moore, bassists Dwayne “Smitty” Smith and Roberto Vally, percussionist Brain Kilgore and guitarists Ray Fuller and Yarone Levy.
All That Matters opens with the jubilant original “So Many Ways.” The melody is always king,” declares Simpson, who aptly makes his point on the stunning melodic gem and the album’s first single propelled by the rhythmic fuel of Michael White and Brian Kilgore. The seductive and alluring “What I’m Waiting For” follows featuring saxophonist Steve Alanis, while Najee is showcased on the dazzling and enchanting “Mystical.” Simpson’s piano and Najee’s flute delightfully trade choruses to beautiful effect creating a high point on the album. The tranquil and free-flowing “Sunlit Sea” demonstrates Simpson’s unparalleled ability to craft timeless impressionistic melodies. All That Matters also features the hypnotic flow of “Soft Touch” and the Latin-tinged sizzler “Bonita,” featuring sublime guitar work from Yarone Levy.

Brian Simpson has a way of making the piano sing as evidenced by his cascading piano runs, emotive phrasing and gentle touch on Oliver Wendell’s “When I Found You.” Simpson either wrote or co-wrote all the songs with the exception of this track. “I have been compelled to compose and record music for as long as I can remember. Of all the parts of my craft, the songwriting aspect is what I work hardest at. I am constantly pushing to achieve the best melodies. When I’m uncertain about some melodic aspect of a song, I’m not afraid to ask for help from a co-writer. It’s the song that matters most,” says the pianist.

The trippy and dance inducing “Whisper to Me” offers another winning moment on All That Matters while “Daybreak” keeps the dance floor a hot with this romantic and yet breezy number. The album concludes with the gorgeous and memorable track “All That Matters,” reminding us of the dear and irreplaceable things in life.

Music has always been a centerpiece in Brian Simpson’s life. The Illinois native credits his late father for helping him develop an appreciation of music and Jazz in particular. “He taught me to enjoy the beauty of a great Jazz solo and how to discern the musicians with great phrasing. My dad listened with such a keen ear.” After graduating from Northern Illinois University, Simpson relocated to Los Angeles where he quickly immersed himself in the local jazz scene. Late night jazz sessions found him playing alongside everyone from saxophonists Everette Harp and Boney James to guitarist Norman Brown. The free-spirited musician soon found himself taking a temporary leave of absence from the Jazz scene, touring the world with pop divas Teena Marie, Sheena Easton and Janet Jackson. His foray into the Pop world didn’t end there. In January 1991 he co-wrote the #1 hit “The First Time” by Surface, which conquered both the R&B and Adult Contemporary charts. With one foot in the Pop world and the other in Jazz, “I’m following in the footsteps of those who laid the foundation of contemporary jazz music,” says Simpson. “Fusing Jazz and R&B is just what Contemporary Jazz is all about.” Simpson has toured with some of the greats of recent Jazz history, including George Duke, Stanley Clarke, Kirk Whalum, Dave Koz and Gerald Albright. Brian has been the musical director for several all star Jazz events and international Jazz festivals. Simpson’s breakthrough as a solo artist was in 2005 with the #1 radio hit “It’s All Good.” The title track proved instantly and joyfully prophetic, as it hit #1 on the Radio & Records Smooth Jazz Airplay chart and remained in the Top 5 for four months. In 2007 Simpson released Above The Clouds, which delivered the memorable radio hits “What Cha Gonna Do?” (Top 10) and “Juicy” (Top 15). In 2010 Simpson released South Beach and the album’s title track snagged a #1 slot on the charts. Just What You Need followed in 2013 featuring the Antônio Carlos Jobim/ Vinicius de Moraes classic “The Girl From Ipanema” which hit #1 on the charts and “Emerald City,” a top 3 hit. 2015’s Out Of A Dream showcased the Top Ten single “Skywatcher,” and the album Persuasion followed in 2016, uniting Simpson with Peter White and Boney James. Something About You was released the following year highlighting the Top 5 single “Morning Samba.” Brian Simpson joined forces in 2021 with Steve Oliver for the dynamic collaboration Unified. The title track was a Top Ten hit at radio.

With the release of All That Matters, Brian Simpson concludes, “I have the greatest job in the world. I simply love the fact that there are people out there in the world getting good feelings from my music. I never take for granted how fortunate I am.”

Shanachie Entertainment
Piano – Brian Simpson 
Programming – Nicholas Cole
Drums – Michael White
Bass – Alex Al
Guitar – Ray Fuller
Percussion – Brian Kilgore


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