'On His Own, But Never Alone'
Saxophonist Curtis Haywood has always been in touch with the healing spirit of music. His earliest memory of his attachment to music is an anecdote his mother shares with everyone. “When I was about 5 or 6 years old, I received my first instrument – a trumpet. When it was bedtime I absolutely refused to go to bed without it."
From that day forward, music has played an integral role in Haywood’s life. And on his self-titled debut as a solo artist, the former member of 1990’s band Joshua has found a strong voice of his own. “It's been a journey since my band broke up more than ten years ago, and it took a while for me to rebound, adjust and confront my fears of being alone and to face the challenges this industry throws at you, but it was always a non negotiable burning call on my life,” says Haywood of his decision to finally release his CD.
Joining Haywood on the CD are a collection of some stalwart players in the jazz, gospel and R&B worlds, among them bassist Artie Reynolds (Kirk Whalum, Alicia Keys, Keith Sweat, Alex Bugnon.) Also on board are Ainsley Taylor on drums, Chris Fischer on keys, Willie Brown on guitar, and Paul Aponte on percussion. But it is Haywood’s haunting soprano saxophone that gives the CD its voice and passion throughout a collection of 12 tracks that include sultry contemporary jazz originals and fresh arrangements of R&B favorites.
Chatting one-on-one with Curtis Haywood I first wondered what had been his musical influences growing up and how many still factored into his music today? Curtis "My first Influence on Sax
was my name sake King Curtis. Rightfully named he was and one of the un sung
heroes of R&B Soul in the sixties (i.e. Soul Serenade), and it just so
turns out that my later influence David Sanborn did a remake of that song. My
cultural background is West Indian, and I love Reggae, and Calypso,The main
factor that still resonates in my music today is that it has to have a strong
thumping back beat."
For the Average Joe who may not have heard of you and was thinking of
buying your debut CD, how would you yourself describe your sound? "Hmmmmm, if I'm understanding your question in possibly having to draw similarities for
the sake of identification, that might vary depending on the age of that avg
joe (LOL,LOL) but the description would be a cross between smooth silky
Grover Washington, the penetrating sound of David Sanborn, and the heartfelt cry
of a Kirk Whalum."
Indeed, your new CD is self-titled ... but did it ever have a title? Is
there a theme to it, perhaps? "Funny you should ask, I almost named it "On
my own but never alone" signifying breaking away from a former band "Joshua"
to go solo. Healing is only half of the Dual theme towards mending and
re-establishing healthy relationships (i.e. Creepin' the infatuation,"Just
Friends" the foundation, and "Anytime" The reality of difficult times but hangin'
in there so I put a little twist on my version of the video for "Anytime"
check it out": "Anytime" Video Stream
Having received your first instrument - a trumpet - at the age of about
5 or 6 it's been said that you loved it so much that you actually slept
with it ... literally! True or false? "Definitely True! if you know anything
about West Indian Parentage, they don't take kindly to disobedience, and
that! I defied treacherously!!! LOL,LOL"
So, how easy (or hard) is it to constantly create a new, vibrant,
wanted-by-the-public sound that both builds on and surpasses the musical
wonderment's/accomplishments that preceded it within the industry? "The
only difficulty lies in picking a Cover tune that hasn't already been buried 6ft
under by 20 other artistes (LOL,LOL), other than that Music totally lies in
the spirit realm and when God chooses to drop one on ya! you've got to grab
it while its hot and run with it so you don't loose it. If you turn it into a
science then you've missed the whole Gift and purpose behind the healing
component that lies within."
Please tell us more about a couple of your own personal favorite tracks
on this new debut album and what they mean to you? "Wheww! that's a loaded
question isn't it. Of course they all hold special places in my heart but
since you're twisting my arm I would have to go with "Rain Song," My literal and
practical prayer for Africa, and a personal prayer for people who's lives have
become barren and desolate to be regenerated with seeds of new life. 2nd,
Crockpot means SLOW COOKER, and so for the dating scene people jump into
relationships way too fast and simply need to slow down and keep it in their
pants!!!! (please excuse my frankness). For the Married folk ya'll need to slow
down stop being so busy and take off the pants more!! LOL,LOL . Musically
speaking I like Missing U. Finally Anytime I could listen to that song all night
You are also associated with both Feed The Children and Self Help
Africa. Please tell us more about your aid to these organizations "Plain and simple Russell, although Rain Song is a Prayer for rain, that prayer needs
to be supported by hard cold CASH!!!. We in this country are clueless to
poverty and must give to those who have dreams just like we do, but no means
to pursue them. Even the scripture says, "Faith without works is dead." I say If you don't
put your money where your mouth is, then your words are spoken with bad breath
and that stinks!!!!
The theme of Healing and restoration continues, especially from the songs
Rain Song, and Heal our land where proceeds are donated to charities "Feed the
Children" www.feedthechildren.org and Self Help Africa www.selfhelp.ie
So, on a different track what '80s pop/rock song would you love to
cover today for a charity record if asked? "'Man in the Mirror' by Michael Jackson."
Did you have a nickname growing up? If so what was it ... and why? "Alrighty Then, let's pull off the covers! won't we LOL,LOL. My nickname (from my
family) was "Dad". hmmmmm Why you may ask, I believe it was because I knew
from jump! exactly what I wanted to be in life and that was to play music, and
I walked with full confidence in knowing what my purpose was."
Do you have any bad vices that you can reveal here today, perhaps? "Hmmmm Vices? who me? well a continuation from Q# 9 In school I had a bit of a
chip on my shoulder Ace-ing my music classes, wondering why other kids were
confused in what they were to pursue in life."
Lastly, and throwing a comedic curve ball, Exclusive Magazine love
Penguins ... do you?! My wife, kids & I loved the movie Funny feet, and
I'm still aching over not seeing "March of the penguins". I hate going to the
movies alone, and couldn't quite find someone to go with, it was too intense
for the kids."
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
If you would like to win your own copy of Curtis' great new CD, just answer this easy question: Born and raised in Brooklyn, Haywood’s early love for music eventually led to his being chosen from some 5,000 candidates to attend which named Performing Arts establishment and in which state?!
Send me your answers and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win one of these wonderful new CDs. Just send us an e:mail here before November 1st with your answer and the subject title CONTEST: CURTIS HAYWOOD SIGNED CDs to:
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