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It's All Good

Brian Simpson

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Album Review

Over the preceding 15 years, the veteran keyboardist Brian Simpson worked with some of the biggest names in contemporary jazz (Stanley Clarke, George Duke, Larry Carlton, Gerald Albright) and even did a tour with Janet Jackson. His second solo album (and first in a decade) clearly shows that he's absorbed the best pop, R&B/funk, and jazz instincts of everyone he's worked with — and should quickly catapult him to the forefront of current smooth jazz keyboard icons, alongside Joe McBride and Brian Culbertson. From the get-go, he's in the playful commercial pocket, the exuberant, blues-tinged title track bouncing along with the help of Rendezvous Music co-founder Dave Koz (whom Simpson has also toured with for ten years). This kind of spirited optimism abounds on radio-ready tracks like "Saturday Cool" and "And the Story Goes," but Simpson's background with real jazz players affords him a deeper artistry as well. Moodier, more sparsely arranged ballads like "Twilight" and "Waiting" provide a winning balance to the crowd-pleasing funk, giving guitarists Allen Hinds and labelmate Marc Antoine outlets for their gentler, more atmospheric sides. Putting most of the lighter fare up front, Simpson can then engage in a sweet, graceful samba ("I Remember When," lushly enhanced by Everette Harp's sax) and two traditional-minded numbers featuring acoustic bass — the contemplative "Blues for Scott" (featuring Tony Moore's subtle brushes) and the raucous, happy bebop-flavored jam "Au Contraire." The album's title phrase may be slightly overused in American pop culture, but in this case, it's the best way to describe Simpson's latest attempt to shed the sideman shackles and emerge as an artist in his own right.

Customer Reviews

Excellent

I just discovered Mr. Simpson a few months ago. I especially like the cut "Waiting". He is the ultimate smooth jazz artist. Beautiful.

Biography

Born: Gurnee, IL

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

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...
Full Bio
It's All Good, Brian Simpson
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