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Never Give Up On Love

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Album Review

Imitating the jazz giants who gave him the greatest inspiration — from Miles Davis to Herbie Hancock and Ramsey Lewis— keyboardist Billy Mitchell's choice to alternate straight-ahead jazz dates with contemporary R&B/funk-driven smooth jazz has earned him respect from both camps over the years, even if it has slightly hurt his commercial momentum . After a few colorful excursions into swing (1996's Cat's Pajamas) and straight-ahead (1997's Passion, recorded live with his quintet), Mitchell returns to the smooth jazz fold with his Paras Recording Co. debut, Never Give Up on Love, a vibrant and eclectic session which combines raw and edgy funk, graceful ballads, and even some worldbeat influences. The title track begins with Welton Gete's snappy solo bassline and the roaring sax of Robert Kyle before easing into a bouncy note-for-note duet between Mitchell's high-end ivories and sultry vocalist Sandra Booker; on this tune as well as the cheerful, Joe Sample-influenced "It Could Only Be You," Mitchell breaks into slick radio-friendliness for a buoyant, extended improvisation. Typical of his more heartfelt side is "Southern Shadows," an instrumental version of a tune Mitchell wrote for singer Jo Marie Payton a few years ago; it's a dramatic, ambient piano meditation with gentle wordless vocals and mystical soundscaping by Munyungo Jackson. Jackson's dense percussion helps Mitchell score in the opposite extreme, helping drive the intense shuffle jam "Conga Man," a big anthemic and exotic party explosion (complete with background noise) that showcases Mitchell's ambitious production skills even if it short-shrifts his own playing.


Born: 03 November 1926 in Kansas City, MO

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

A hard-swinging tenor saxophonist (who is no relation to the crossover keyboardist of the same name), Billy Mitchell made his mark in several settings. He worked in Detroit with Nat Towles' band and in the late '40s, he played with Lucky Millinder's Orchestra in New York. In 1949, Mitchell recorded with Milt Jackson, worked in the big bands of Milt Buckner and Gil Fuller, and toured with Woody Herman's Second Herd for two months. He spent the first half of the 1950s playing locally in Detroit and...
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Never Give Up On Love, Billy Mitchell
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  • 8,99 €
  • Genres: Jazz, Music
  • Released: 12 September 2000

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