Samuel Prather "Groove Orchestra" w/ digital copy
This record marks my evolution from R&B producer and sideman to bandleader. With the help of some incredible collaborators (including Fred Yonnet, Christie Dashiell, Micah Robinson, and Shacara Rogers to name a few) a completely different sound was achieved; jazz and world music that could exist in the same space as hip hop and pop music. Cross genre, cross generational, enough drive to excite the young and enough depth to feed the deepest audiophile; all while coming from a place of positivity and respect for all the traditions present on the album. It's a buffet of all types of music played by an all star cast. This record is a tribute to the groove of Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, James Brown, Fela Kuti, and many others through the lens of jazz.
This 9 track experiment began at Howard University as a concept for a mixed genre quartet record featuring funk lines on upright bass. I took a class on big band arranging and the scope of the record ballooned quickly into a cast of 14 people. Over the next 3 years I got help from some of the baddest musicians in the world who also happened to be friends I've met over my career.
Upright bassist Kris Funn (Kenny Garrett/Christian Scott) who I've known since the late 90's, was the first recruit because he has a tone and feel that reminds me people used to dance to this instrument. In working with Howard's award winning Afro Blue vocal ensemble, I also met several of the best singers I'd ever heard in Christie Dashiell (Sweet Honey & the Rock/EJ Strickland), Micah Robinson (Bilal), and Shacara Rogers (Betty Carter Jazz Ahead)
I couldn't get most of these people in a studio at the same time so I came up with the idea to do something nuts. I was going to make every song in it's entirety using midi sequencing (Reason) and switch out as many of the fake instruments as I could over time. Because they were able to record separately, I was able to get most of the record done in my apartment, and a lot of great guests were able to contribute.
Industry veterans Samir Moulay on guitar (Macy Gray/Kamasi Washington), Fred Yonnet on harmonica (Dave Chappelle/Stevie Wonder, and Greg Boyer on trombone (Prince/P Funk) made contributions. There were also parts played by the friends I'd made at Howard, up and coming band leaders, and cats I'd worked with from the DC area through years of playing.
The resulting gumbo, the result of this musical rue three years in the making, is a fresh modern fusion of all it's parts; still jazz but mixed to sit right in a playlist of your favorite songs to party to.