After releasing three eclectic, critically-acclaimed albums, vocalist Victor Fields has found a comfortable niche to focus his soul-kissed adult pop songs of love. His Thinking Of You CD was released this past February by Regina Records.
Joined by smooth jazz luminaries Richard Elliot (sax), Rick Braun (flugelhorn), Jeff Lorber (keyboards), Nelson Braxton (multi-instrumentalist) and Chris Camozzi (guitar), Fields fully explored the genre while serving up eight R&B cover tunes and two originals co-penned by Lorber on the Camozzi-produced collection.
Naturally suited to his silky vocals, Fields' version of the Bill Withers' sunny classic, "Lovely Day," was serviced to smooth jazz radio last month where it is presently garnering airplay.
Fields recorded Thinking Of You with Camozzi as close to live as possible at the famed The Record Plant studio in Sausalito, California, not too far from the Bay Area resident's home. The album is up-tempo and organic comprised of elegant vocals over funky tracks. It's decidedly more fun, more upbeat and more danceable than his previous releases (Victor, 52nd Street and Promise). Attempting to make each song a musical event, Fields carefully selects interesting and challenging songs that he can make his own by infusing his personality and energy. His phrasing, color and tone are distinctly jazzy and soulful. While Fields is naturally drawn to love songs, he's quick to remind that not all love songs are slow and sad. In this era of disposable popular music and "flavor of the month" idols, Fields is a refreshing song stylist who truly studies his craft, sings songs of meaning and substance, and strives to create a significant body of work that will stand the test of time.
After having released three critically-acclaimed albums of eclectic tracks your new album focuses on adult R&B cover songs. Why the change of direction?"Two things happened. First, I listend to my fans. They kept telling me that they still loved my first CD, "Promise." It was produced by Kashif and covered some of my R&B favorites and a couple originals. The three albums in between gave me a chance to stretch out and grow. I loved making them, too. But 'Thinking of You' is the CD my fans have been waiting for and I had big fun in the studio recording it."
My personal favorite is the Bill Withers cover of 'Lovely Day,' but what made you yourself decide to cover and include this track also? "Thank you. I've always loved the song. I think Bill Withers is one of the great contemporary songwriters. I've had fans email me to tell how the
song inspired them to deal with every day stuff. It's upbeat and
uplifitng. I thank Chris Camozzi and Dave Delhomme for a fresh arrangement
and I'm really excited about the response it's been getting."
The album title, 'Thinking Of You' is interesting, but does it originate from a more personal standpoint for you, perhaps? "Jeff Lorber co-wrote a track on the CD with the same title. I borrowed it for the CD title because this one for my fans. It was my way of thanking them for their love and support."
It's been said that this album was recorded as 'close to live as possible.' Please explain this more "It was recorded "old school": a singer and his band recording in the studio. Take one! That created a different vibrant energy. It's also a testament to the level of musicianship in the studio."
Being that this album is decidedly more upbeat and possibly even danceable than your previous releases, are we seeing Victor headed into a
permanent new musical direction, perhaps? "I like where I'm at right now, but you never know. We'll have to wait and see."
It's been stated in your bio that each song contains your 'phrasing, color and tone' to create each entity. How exactly does one include 'color' into such creations? "Every tone has a spectrum of color depending on a lot of factors, but a lot has to do with vocal placement and breath. It's an interpretive type of thing. It's very subtle and very intuitive and works in conjunction with and sometimes enhances the other elements of phrasing, tone and diction."
You recently performed with your band at the annual Radio & Records convention. How did that go for you? "It went great! The Radio & Records Convention was an opportunity to introduce myself to the smooth jazz community. In that regard it was successful. The performance itself was fun. I saw the electric slide out there on the dance floor a couple of times. While in town, I also did an interview for Smooth Jazz TV with Cameron Smith and got to meet Lee Ritenour. Can't get much smoother than that!"
You also have an upcoming concert to play in your "backyard" at the Regents Theatre in Oakland. What changes do you make to yourself or your music when playing "backyard" shows as opposed to other, every day road gigs? "'Backyard' concerts are opportunities to play in front of fans that have been there since day one. I promote the show, select the venue and we sell tickets by word of mouth. It has that kind of vibe. The energy is off the hook. It's like throwing a big house party."
It's been said that you are now investing your own hard-earned money into producing and releasing your albums. Are you seeing this as a good monetary move at this time ... or not? "I'm not alone. I'm just one of thousands of indies doing the same thing. All of my CD's have been recorded on my label, Regina Records. You do what you love and the money will follow."
Finally, what are your future plans? "I'll be out on the road promoting the new CD. We recently signed a licensing agreement in Japan and we're having great success in the UK and Europe. Im also writing more which is great. I opened for Regina Belle at the Flamingo Las Vegas on Valentine's Day. The best way to keep up to speed is to visit my website www.victorfields.com and sign up on my email list. You'll be the first to know."
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