I had the idea to do another collection of cover songs after going through some old tapes and finding all my original demos for "Reflections", my 1994 collection of covers. Together with those demos were a dozen or so songs that never made it to that CD. I had honestly forgotten that there were any outtakes from those days.
"For The Love Of You" was one of those unused songs that sounded good to me, so I wondered if just maybe there was a whole other album waiting to be made- a sort of follow up to the Reflections" CD. I started putting together tracks based on the arrangements on the tape, but soon I had to go on tour with Richard Elliot, Rick Braun and Jonathan Butler on a tour that we called Jazz Attack. Not missing a beat, I packed up my laptop computer and a microphone and resolved to continue the recording process on the road. I realized that here was a perfect opportunity to record my musician friends in their natural habitat.
I ambushed Richard Elliot backstage at the Carefree Theatre in West Palm Beach, Florida and asked him to play the melody of "You Are Everything" on my improvised laptop studio. He had never played the song before and I tried to reassure him by saying that it was just an experiment, to see what the sax would sound like. His uncertainty about how to play the melody matched perfectly the lack of confidence in the song lyric. I ended up keeping that run through for the final mix. Thanks Richard! I set up another session with Richard backstage at the Fraze Pavilion in Kettering Ohio, just half an hour before a Jazz Attack show. We were working away in the dressing room when my road manager came in to tell us that the show was about to begin! Richard kept right on blowing until show time.....the sax intro and rousing solo on that song comes straight from that evening in Ohio. We tried to redo the melody of the 2nd verse that we had originally recorded in W. Palm Beach but the confidence that Richard now had was at odds with the tender, introspective way he had first played it before, so we kept the original performance.
All these songs represent something to me from my adolescence. Romantic, exciting, soothing- they all have stayed with me through the years. Who over the age of 30 can say that the hauntingly beautiful "Look Of Love" hasn't touched them at some point? I hope my rendition does the song justice, (with a lovely horn arrangement by Jerry Hey). And the song that started this whole ball rolling, "For The Love Of You". I eschewed the romanticism of the Isley's version for straight down and dirty groove. Funny thing is, I did the opposite on my version of "Who's That Lady", (from my Glow CD) substituting the Isleys frantic all-out rock and roll blitz-krieg for a much gentler approach. This approach- to take a well-known song and do it in a unique and different way, was my purpose on this album. Only exception is "What Does It Take", where we couldn't really find any other way to do it than to faithfully copy the original groove. Then again, the Jr. Walker saxophone lines on this song have never to my knowledge been played on acoustic guitar! Finally, Paul Brown came up with the title for the CD "Playing Favorites". I favoured the English spelling of "Favourites" but I was outvoted by the entire staff of Sony Music/ Legacy. Any way you spell it, it really does say everything about what this CD represents to me.
These are some of my favourite things!
1. What Does It Take (To Win Your Love) featuring Sam Riney on Saxophone
2. The Look Of Love
3. Deja Vu featuring Boney James on Saxophone
4. Mister Magic featuring Bob James on Fender Rhodes
5. Lovely Day featuring Jonathan Butler on vocal
6. Crazy Love (Van Morrison's)
8. For The Love Of You
9. Hit The Road Jack
10. You Are Everything featuring Jeffrey Osborne on vocal and Richard Elliot on saxophone
11. One On One featuring Rick Braun on flugelhorn