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Keyboardist and composer Brian Simpson is a sought-after studio musician and musical director who has regularly crossed from jazz to pop and R&B. Raised in Gurnee, Illinois, Simpson grew up in a musical family and eventually earned his music degree from Northern Illinois University. After graduating, he relocated to Los Angeles, where he found work performing with such artists as Boney James, Norman Brown, and Everette Harp. This led to stints touring with a variety of pop artists, including Janet Jackson and Teena Marie. In 1991, Simpson garnered more attention after co-writing Surface's number one hit R&B single "The First Time." As a studio musician, Simpson has worked with such artists as Stanley Clarke, Kirk Whalum, and George Duke. Since the late '90s, he has acted as musical director for saxophonist Dave Koz. Simpson has released several albums as a solo artist, including 1995's Closer Still and 2005's It's All Good. Two years later, Simpson delivered the album Above the Clouds. In 2013, Simpson released his fifth solo album, Just What You Need, featuring guest appearances by Gerald Albright, Marc Antoine, Elan Trotman, and Jonathan Butler. ~ Matt Collar
'90s, '00s, '10s