Title - Sound Alchemist
Artist - Myron McKinley
For those unaware, keyboardist Myron McKinley has a clear vision for his own creative expression, but perhaps more importantly, he has a clear vision for providing a necessary impetus to shatter the boundaries and stimulate the evolution of jazz.
Dropping October 28th, 2022 on the Dark Elf Music label, the ten-song Sound Alchemist is a learned thesis of sonic exploration and experimentation written and produced by McKinley as a m�lange of contemporary, straight-ahead and fusion jazz; hip hop, R&B and soul; and multicultural nuance.
While the music industry continues to shift towards singles as singular musical statements, McKinley prefers taking listeners on a complete journey via an album. �Sound Alchemist� does just that.
Deftly, he offers enough of the familiar allure, such as recording The Carpenter�s �Close to You,� Sting�s �La Belle Dame San Regrets,� Earth, Wind & Fire�s �Imagination,� and Drake and Jhene Aiko�s �From Time,� but he reinvents each one - sometimes radically - making you forget the source material.
1. �Close To You�
2. �Will You�
4. �Crowded Club�
5. �Let�s Just See�
7. �La Belle Dame Sans Regrets�
8. �Remembering You�
9. �Tunisian Morning�
10. �From Time�
This warmly-imbued, heartfelt and divinely gorgeous collection opens on an ardently sculptured rendition of The Carpenter�s �Close to You,� and then comes one of McKinley�s own compositions, his delicious �Will You� being a tribute to Nat King Cole, and then we are given the eagerly intrepid instrumental �Matrix,� and then he and his troupe reference early 1970s funk and jazz fusion hybrids for the shimmering �Crowded Club� and then McKinley fuses straight-ahead jazz, hip hop beats and electronic dance music on �Let�s Just See.�
Next up we get McKinley�s tribute to Earth, Wind & Fire on the lushly regale �Imagination� (for the past twenty years, McKinley has toured with the legendary band, serving as their musical director for the last dozen years and thus the group�s energizing bass player Verdine White plays on the track, which also featuring falsetto singer Danny McClain), an audacious cover of Sting�s lesser-known 1996 �La Belle Dame Sans Regrets,� another of McKinley�s own is brought forth within the divinely expansive �Remembering You,� before an all-star lineup illumines the centerpiece selection within �Tunisian Morning� and a graciously fulsome reworking of Drake and Jhene Aiko�s �From Time� rounds the new project out.
Los Angeles native McKinley studied classical and jazz piano, including under the tutelage of Grammy-winning trumpeter Wynton Marsalis. But hip hop�s influence in his works is just as prevalent as jazz and classical.
�I grew up in the hip hop era. I was listening to A Tribe Called Quest and Oscar Peterson on the same radio station. I loved all of those. When you come up like that, it�s still a part of you, even though you have classical and jazz. It still becomes a part of your DNA musically. I think �Sound Alchemist� shows a lot of that. You can hear church aspects, classical aspects, jazz aspects and it also shows hip hop aspects.�
In addition to his long-time duties with Earth, Wind & Fire, McKinley has toured with Whitney Houston, Kenny Lattimore, Stanley Clarke, En Vogue and Shai. He has written, cowrote or produced songs for EWF, Clarke, Doc Powell, Silk, Vesta, Cherokee and Howard Hewett.
He�s also composed music for film and television scores, contributing to �Soul Food,� �Romeo Must Die,� �The Best Man,� �Think Like A Man,� �Shaft,� and �The Godfather of Harlem� among many others. But jazz is home, so McKinley makes time to perform with his own straight-ahead jazz trio.
McKinley�s bold spirit and intrepid scope heard throughout �Sound Alchemist� are purposely sprawling, purposely edgy, purposely youthful and vibrant, and purposely inclusive. That�s where he believes jazz needs to go in order to thrive again in relevancy.
�I don�t think musically right now the boundaries are being pushed. I could have easily done (recorded) something else and directed it towards a certain genre and left it there without pushing, but musically, to really make things grow, it takes adventurers to push the genre.�
Myron McKinley @ Facebook
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Myron McKinley Trio @ Spotify