How did this new album and overall concept for it come about, and what are your ultimate goals with it?
Work on After Hours began in February 2012. I started hashing out some musical ideas for songs and, in the process, found myself listening to and being influenced by music that seemed to resonate in a new way. I started re-listening to albums like Steve Cole’s Stay Awhile, Paul Taylor’s Pleasure Seeker, Brian Culbertson’s Nice and Slow and Boney James’ Ride over and over and started listening to the local R&B station, KBLX, almost religiously. All the new songs I was writing seemed to be rooted in R&B grooves- not only did these songs need to have a killer groove/pocket, but I also knew that I wanted to have the opportunity to work with people who were experts at creating not only that sound and pocket, but magical performances. Ross Bolton had done work for Euge Groove and Shilts, and what he added to our record is simply amazing. As someone who has been a heavy hitter on both sides of the studio (performer and producer/engineer) and practically defined the smooth jazz genre, I still feel incredibly lucky to have had Paul Brown’s help and input. I knew that he would help steer the music in the direction it wanted to go and, along with Darren Rahn, produce some phenomenal mixes!
What would your top “desert island” classic albums be, regardless of genre… the albums you turn to time after time for your own personal enjoyment and inspiration?
"Saxophonic" and "The Dance" - Dave Koz
Going back in your life as far as you can remember, what song or performance is the first you recall hearing and being affected by?
Having grown up in the late 80s, my dad had given me a tape deck which I used to record my favorite songs from the local soft rock radio station and we’d listen to those mix tapes during car rides or I’d listen to them in my room while doing homework. After my parents got a CD player, I remember being lent a CD of Richard Marx’s Rush Street by a neighbor kid. I listened to the first five tracks on that CD for days and days and felt drawn to- and mesmerized by- those songs in a way that music hadn’t touched me before.
What artists do you feel akin to or in the same tribe with?
Dave Koz, Steve Cole, Michael Lington, Paul Taylor, and Warren Hill… I feel that I’ve been most influenced by these guys- their music has a certain structure, groove, and melodic appeal that I’d like to think gets replicated in the music I write/play.
How would you describe what inspires you to do what you do?
I think it must be encoded in my DNA. When I’m not actively writing, recording, and performing my own music, I feel stagnant, temporarily incomplete, and less motivated in a multitude of ways. My wife and my family I think have always known that writing/recording is my “me” time- and thank God they’re so understanding and supportive. My guess is that my need to write/record stems from the fact that I have spent a large part of my life learning and performing music I did not write (which I continue to do), as well as teaching a vast body of repertoire to aspiring students- being able to create something unique to me is something I find critical to my relationship with music, as well as essential to my identity as an artist and as a person.
If you were magically allowed to spend an hour with whomever you chose in history… alive or dead… and really be able to get inside their head, who would that be?
John Coltrane... but I think most sax players would say that!