The first volume of his sprawling “Outside the Box” series, “Jazz Outside the Box,” due March 23, is his first straight-ahead jazz offering illuminated by a stellar lineup.
Keyboardist David Garfield was nineteen when he got his start playing alongside influential bebop jazz trumpeter Freddie Hubbard. But opportunities came quickly for him in contemporary jazz as well as in R&B and pop, which guided the direction of his now five-decade career away from his roots. Straight-ahead jazz has remained in his core and he’s longed to return “home” thus to launch his prolific multi-volume, multi-genre “Outside the Box” collection, Garfield will drop his first straight-ahead jazz album, “Jazz Outside the Box,” on March 23 via his Creatchy Records label.
In addition to playing piano, Fender Rhodes and synthesizers, Garfield produced and arranged the 15-track jazz set that revisits Duke Ellington, Horace Silver, Joe Sample, Rodgers & Hammerstein, Oliver Nelson and Joe Zawinul classics, applies an imaginative jazz varnish to a pair of Sting songs, and presents four of his own compositions. To materialize his vision, Garfield rounded up a massive ensemble that boasts several accomplished musicians he’s never worked with before but have long been on his wish list of collaborators such as trumpeter Wallace Roney, percussionist Poncho Sanchez and drummer Steve Jordan. Randy Brecker, Michael McDonald, Tom Scott, Eric Marienthal, Pete Christlieb, Bennie Maupin, Brian Auger, Will Lee, Airto Moreira along with dozens of other prominent players guest on the record, which includes Charlie Bisharat’s String Quartet and an orchestra conducted by John Clayton.
“Jazz Outside the Box” contains among the final performances by a pair of recently-departed guitar greats, Chuck Loeb and Larry Coryell. Perhaps the most unusual contribution comes from The Doors’ John Densmore, who plays drums and orates on a spoken word segment on the full-length version of Silver’s “Song For My Father.”
“I recruited a unique grouping of players to render each song. It was like casting for a movie. For example, ‘Song For My Father’ is rich with meaning, history and personal connections, which is a major component and an underlying purpose behind the entire ‘Outside the Box’ project. On that tune, I pay tribute to its author, Horace Silver, who was my mentor and like an adopted father to me. It also pays homage to The Doors and Steely Dan. A lot of people don’t know that Horace originally wrote lyrics to the song, so I had John (Densmore) speak Horace’s words. Another cool thing is that Steely Dan borrowed the opening bass riff from ‘Song for My Father’ for ‘Rikki Don’t Lose That Number’ so I often quoted ‘Rikki’ whenever I played ‘Song for My Father’ at my gigs. I included that quote at the beginning of this recording, which features guitarist Denny Dias, a founding member of Steely Dan who played on the original ‘Rikki.’ There’s also a part of the track where I have (former Chicago lead singer) Jason Scheff sing ‘If you have a change of heart’ as another nod to ‘Rikki,’” said Garfield.
One of Garfield’s originals is “East Lou Brew,” another salute steeped in personal history. The song honors Miles Davis and their shared hometown, St. Louis. Davis’s nephew, Vince Wilburn, mans the drum kit, Davis protégé Roney shines on trumpet, Maupin plays sax and bass clarinet, Coryell is on guitar, Darryl Jones handles bass and Moreira adds percussion. Wilburn, Jones, Maupin and Moreira were in Davis’s band with the latter two having played on Davis’s landmark album, “Bitches Brew.”
“‘East Lou Brew’ is an adventurous tune loosely based on themes from some of Miles’ best-known works. It was incredible to play with all these greats who knew Miles and toured and recorded with him. They all shared a ton of stories, which helped ground the tune in both past and present. I consider Miles one of my strongest and primary musical influences and I always wanted to play with him. This is the next best thing.”
Another giant who was one of Garfield’s mentors was Sample. “I got to write, tour and record with Joe, and recorded his song, ‘Rainbow Seeker,’ to honor his recent passing. I was devastated when we lost him and wanted to find the perfect way to honor him on this project. Joe was not only one of my favorite all-time keyboard players, but he was a huge influence on my musical development as a pianist and keyboardist.”
As “Jazz Outside the Box” prepares to ship to jazz radio stations, Garfield’s single, “Jamming,” continues to climb the smooth jazz charts. On the heels of his Billboard No. 2 hit, “Go Home,” both singles will appear on “Jamming Outside the Box,” the second album in the series with this one approaching jazz from a contemporary/smooth perspective.
The disc will be released this summer. Also, presently moving up the country charts is “I Lied,” a vocal ballad Garfield penned with legend Smokey Robinson, which will be released on “Vox Outside the Box.”
“Jazz Outside the Box” contains the following songs: “Fragile” “Harvest Time” “In A Sentimental Mood” “Roxanne” “Song For My Father” (full-length) “Rainbow Seeker” “Stolen Moments” “Voodoo Gumbo/Citizen Coryell” “East Lou Brew” “Sophisticated Lady” “Red Baron” “Country Preacher” “Prophecy” “My Favorite Things” “Song For My Father” (radio edit)