Up Front

Up Front

by Michael Manson
     
 

The reality of the smooth jazz business in the 2000s has been that great genre veterans and solid emerging artists alike can bounce from label to label as indies open up and are shuttered no matter the number of radio hits. After a number of years as a monster sideman, inventive Chicago bassist Michael Manson struck gold in 2002 with his hit "Outer Drive"; despite…  See more details below

Overview

The reality of the smooth jazz business in the 2000s has been that great genre veterans and solid emerging artists alike can bounce from label to label as indies open up and are shuttered no matter the number of radio hits. After a number of years as a monster sideman, inventive Chicago bassist Michael Manson struck gold in 2002 with his hit "Outer Drive"; despite solid output since then, he was on his third indie label (Nu Groove) by the time he released the solid Up Front collection in 2008. For fans who have never bought a Manson CD, it serves as a great primer for his strikingly melodic, hard-grooving, and brass-drenched funk style that allows for a lot of virtuoso playing. The opening track and first single -- helmed by genre hitmaker and saxman Darren Rahn -- is loaded with vibrant horns, a plucky, infectious, and singable bass melody, and crisp guest shots by George Duke, Lenny Castro, and Paul Jackson, Jr. How could it not be the ultimate in percussive funk? Likewise, the easy-grooving, laid-back, retro-soul vibin' "Steppin' Out" and the sensuous tribute to Manson's wife, Lana ("She's Always There"), featuring Najee, are picture-perfect urban jazz. A fine-print sticker adorning the jewel box explains away the odd mix of the other 12 tracks and addresses the unfortunate realities of the business: because 215 Records folded and his 2006 gem Just Feelin' It hadn't been available for over a year, Manson remastered five tracks from that album just so they wouldn't be forgotten. You can't beat the playful light funk spirit of "Coming Right at Ya" and easy breeze of "It's the Way That She Moves" -- but still, if you are a fan waiting for a full-scale project, this isn't quite it. Manson follows the lead of many other genre artists in the 2000s by covering a well-known pop-soul song (a nicely rendered "End of the Road") and then reminds his fans where his solo journey began with a laid-back "Chicago-style" take on his biggest hit, "Outer Drive," featuring another Chicago-based smooth jazz great, guitarist Nick Colionne. So, in essence, this label debut is something of a cool "greatest-hits" package with a bunch of kickin' new songs. With any luck -- and Manson surely deserves a few breaks with his new label -- Nu Groove might stick around long enough for him to follow this with a completely new collection the next time out.

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Product Details

Release Date:
01/22/2008
Label:
Nu Groove Records
UPC:
0026656300424
catalogNumber:
3004
Rank:
71240

Tracks

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Michael Manson   Primary Artist,Bass,Piccolo Bass,Tenor Bass
George Duke   Piano
Najee   Flute
Jeff Lorber   Piano,Keyboards
Norman Brown   Guitar
Alex Al   Bass
Stephen Berry   Trombone
Larry Bowen   Trumpet
Rick Braun   Trumpet
Tom Braxton   Saxophone
Lenny Castro   Percussion
Jerry DiMuzio   Saxophone
Ray Fuller   Guitar,Rhythm Guitar
Tim Gant   Keyboards
Keith Henderson   Guitar
Paul Jackson   Guitar,Electric Guitar
Michael Logan   Piano,Keyboards,fender rhodes
Kirk Whalum   Saxophone
Michael White   Drums
Pharez Whitted   Trumpet
Steve Cole   Saxophone
Dave Kochanski   Keyboards
Cynthia Jernigan   Vocals
Willis   Guitar
Michael White   Drums
Nick Colionne   Guitar,Soloist
Paul Mertens   Saxophone
Joey Woolfalk   Guitar
Kevin Whalum   Vocals
Gerey Johnson   Guitar
Armirris Palmore   Vocals
Oscar Seaton   Drums
Calvin Rodgers   Drums
Roberta Thomas   Vocals
Michael Ripoll   Guitar
Desmond Pringle   Vocals
John Blasucci   Keyboards
Tina Brown   Vocals
Louie Stockwell   Saxophone
Graham Ferguson Lacey   Vocals
Khari Parker   Drums
Felicia Coleman Evans   Vocals
Darren Rahn   Keyboards,Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone,fender rhodes,Horn Section
Robin Robinson   Vocals
Chris Miskel   Drums
Jason Rahn   Trumpet,Flugelhorn,Horn Section
Trina Davis   Vocals
Ted Hosarth   Saxophone
Steve Snell   Saxophone
Louie Stockwell   Saxophone
John Colloso   Vocals
Gus Lacey   Vocals
Jason Tyson   Organ,Piano,fender rhodes
Oscar Seaton   Drums
Mel Brown   Bass

Technical Credits

Bill Withers   Composer
Jeff Lorber   Programming,Producer,Audio Production
Michael Logan   Producer
Michael Manson   Composer,Producer,Audio Production
L.A. Reid   Composer
Skip Scarborough   Composer
Daryl Simmons   Composer
Dave Kochanski   Programming,Producer,Audio Production
Michael White   Engineer
Armirris Palmore   Arranger
John Blasucci   Programming,Producer,Audio Production
Darren Rahn   Arranger,Producer,Engineer,Horn Arrangements,Audio Production
Chris Miskel   Programming
Jason Tyson   Audio Production
Mel Brown   Engineer

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