Title - 'Higher'
Artist - The Braxton Brothers
For those not in the know, the San Francisco-based smooth jazz duo of twin brothers Nelson (bass) and Wayne Braxton (saxophone) (aka The Braxton Brothers) first took shape when both siblings joined the school band during the fourth grade.
By high school, each was a perennial member of the California All-State Honor Band; while Wayne went on to Cal State Northridge, performing as a member of the school's celebrated Jazz A Band, Nelson instead studied tuba at San Francisco State University, later touring Europe as part of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra.
The brothers were later reunited at SFSU, collaborating there in a jazz quartet; they were also both honored as selections to the Disney All-American collegiate band.
Upon turning professional, Nelson toured with Najee, while Wayne worked with Sheila E.; as the Braxton Brothers, they debuted in 1996 with Steppin' Out, which was originally released on the tiny Kokopelli label but later licensed for reissue by Windham Hill, where it generated the NAC smash "When Love Comes Around."
That was followed by Now & Forever (1999), Both Sides (2002), 2004's Rollin' and True Love; that came out on Valentine's Day 2013. And now, releasing August 24th, 2018, from the brothers who compose by writing lyrics first, comes a brand new album in the shape of Higher (via Braxton Productions).
1. “The Only Woman In The World”
2. “You Care About Me”
3. “Back In My Arms”
5. “Something In My Heart”
6. “Because Of You”
7. “A Stronger Love”
9. “Where I Wanna Be”
10. “Just To Be Loved”
11. “What Would I Do”
12. “I’ll Be Here”
Containing twelve new songs that they wrote and produced for this, their sixth album, Higher features that aforementioned unique twist of the brothers composing by writing lyrics first; which, for an R&B-jazz instrumental twosome that uses vocals on only two of the twelve new tracks, is an effort that deserves recognition.
“Yes, it is a different way of writing for instrumentalists," Nelson Braxton, a longtime touring member of Michael Bolton’s band, explains, "but for us, first and foremost, we never want to be background music. The purpose of our music is bigger. We feel that we have a higher responsibility."
"New music and new melodies move through us, giving people a reason to feel joy, have a good time, free them from stress, anxiety and problems; and show the listener love,” he then adds.
Indeed, Nelson actually worked on the album during his global travels while taking in views of the Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, The English Channel, The Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean.
And it's within these twelve beautifully sculptured melodies that those nautical waves are lovingly discovered, for right from the off, lead tracks “The Only Woman In The World," “You Care About Me," and especially "Back In My Arms” showcase a styling that ensures the listener that the brothers are back doing what they do best.
Nelson’s supple bass lines and Wayne’s gregarious tenor and alto sax come to the fore amazingly on cuts such as both the title track, and the delicious, dreamy "Beauty," with their rich, indelible harmonies taking center stage on both "A Stronger Love" and "Where I Wanna Be."
Chock full of funky R&B grooves, dynamic pop-rock rhythms, sensually soulful urban beats and breezy reggae vibes, as the album rounds out with the lyrically encouraging track “What Would I Do”, and then the reassuring vibe of "I’ll Be Here," it's evident that there is nothing that these brothers cannot musically convey.
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