Blake Aaron - Soul Stories
Heading full-throttle into his second decade as a recording artist and his seventh year as host of the popular syndicated "Blake Aaron Live w Tina Anderson," the multifaceted guitarist, composer, producer and media personality – now releasing his highly anticipated 4th full length CD, and his first completely selfproduced solo project – has a lot of fresh and dynamic musical Soul Stories to tell.
Once again drawing on a lifetime of diverse musical influences to create a masterful fusion of jazz, R&B, soul, rock, blues and Latin sounds, the Southern California based Aaron creates his most expansive, fully expressive collection yet, artfully alternating his lead voice between three of his favorite guitars: the D'Angelico hollow body, the Fender Stratocaster and the Cordoba Nylon string. His special guests, saxophonist/flutist Najee, vocalist Spencer Day, and vocalist Derek Bordeaux, are among the hundreds of guests that have appeared with Aaron and his co-host Tina Anderson on his live music radio show.
"The diversity on Soul Stories and previous albums comes from the fact that I've always played all kinds of different music throughout my life," says Aaron, a veteran studio and touring sideman and TV/film score performer who released his debut album With Every Touch in 2001. "People are most familiar to me now as a contemporary jazz artist, but I've been in all kinds of different bands playing rock, funk, R&B and straight ahead jazz. So I've never been able to focus on just one style. It's a more challenging process at live shows when I'm working with several different guitars, but I'm able to create albums and shows that take people on a musical journey."
Aaron's fans have long been entertained by his multiguitar approach in his live performances where he'll set up his nylon string guitar on a stand while the Strat or hollow body is strapped around his shoulder – allowing for some amazing switchoffs during the same song. "As with my live performances, I like to make all of my records as if they are movies," he says, "with all the emotional ups and downs, as if I am taking the listener through a story or a musical landscape. With Soul Stories , I wanted to try to tell compelling musical stories, some with words but most without. Many artists like to focus on one trademark sound, but I have to use different modes of expression because that's really who I am. It keeps the albums fresh and allows for more spontaneity onstage."
A testament to his popularity as a personality and artist and demand as a force behind the scenes, Aaron's whirlwind schedule these past few years has included the weekly two hour show, club and festival appearances throughout the country and producing fellow artists in a multitude of genres (including urban and traditional/big band jazz, rock and EDM). Because it was a challenge finding a dedicated block of time to devote to his first album since his third hit CD Desire, Aaron embarked on a necessary and unique rollout plan featuring the ongoing release of various radio singles – which now form the core of Soul Stories.
Aaron has already scored Top Five Billboard airplay hits with his first-ever Latin flavored single "Encantadora," a high energy exotic funk tune featuring Najee on flute; the soulful, percussive jazz tune "You're The One For Me," featuring Aaron's powerful electric lines playing off vocalist Spencer Day's romantic storytelling; and the snappy and slamming, brass fired old school jam "Groove-O-Matic." Aaron also released as singles the contemporary Latin dance romp "Sol Amor (A Story of Passion)" and the midtempo R&B romance "You're My Miracle (A Story of Bliss in the Groove)" featuring cowriter Derek Bordeaux on lead vocals. Soul Stories' latest single, the cleverly titled "Wes Side Story," is a spirited 60's soul jazz excursion that takes Aaron back to one of his key guitar influences, the great Wes Montgomery, and also draws inspiration from Eddie Harris, a premiere saxophonist from that era.
Though fans have heard some of the tales on Soul Stories over the airwaves these past few years, the full-length collection features several brand new tracks that find Aaron taking his game as a multiguitarist, composer and producer to the next level. After performing the Hall & Oates 70s pop/soul classic "Sara Smile" live for many years, Aaron reworks it as an ultraemotional, "screaming" and "weeping" extravaganza that throws the door to his rock and blues side wide open. Then come two story songs at the heart of the album, "Story of My Life, a balmy atmospheric South American fusion of Argentine tango and Brazilian vibes; and the alternately simmering and soaring "Story of the Blues," an intense electric blues ballad with an undercurrent of old school keyboards. Aaron whips out his Stratocaster for a tour-de-force version of the classic "Europa," reimagining it as an exotic but bluesy cross between the Gato Barbieri and Santana versions and opening with a rich orchestral intro with a beautiful nylon string guitar.
Those who know Aaron only through his contemporary jazz recordings and the "Blake Aaron Live" live music radio show are listening to an artist whose fascinating, multi-faceted history speaks through every note he makes.
Dubbed "a genius on the guitar" by the Los Angeles Times, he launched his career as an L.A. studio musician and sideman and has recorded and/ or performed with an incredible array of jazz, pop and R&B artists. These include Philip Bailey (Earth Wind and Fire), Sheila E., Frank Stallone, Bobby Womack and Carlos Santana (Womack-Save the Children), The Gap Band, David Pack (Ambrosia), Jimmy Pankow (Chicago), Lakeside, Dynasty, The Drifters, The Coasters, Tommy Walker, Little Anthony and the Imperials, Joe Houston, Mary Wells, Billy Bass and Bernie Worell (The Funkadellics), Fish (Fishbone), producer Bill Laswell, producer Michael Lloyd, Keiko Matsui, Hiroshima, David Benoit, Najee, Eric Marienthal, Ricky Lawson, Nelson Rangell, Marion Meadows, Steve Reid's Bamboo Forest, Kuh LaDesma, and Gloria Trevi.
A first call TV and film guitarist, Aaron has also worked for such television shows as Fox's "MAD TV," where Blake was the show's guitarist for 14 years and theme cocomposer with Emmy Winner Greg O' Connor. His other TV and film work includes Steven Seagal's "Half Past Dead 2," "Super Dave Osborne" (guitarist and theme cocomposer), "The Next Best Thing" (ABC), "The Starlet" (w/Faye Dunaway, UPN), "Chocolate News" (Comedy Central), "108" (ABC), "The Jamie Kennedy Experiment" (WB), "Gary and Mike" (UPN), "The Ben Stiller Show" (FOX), and "Sunday Night Comics" (FOX).
Aaron was an immediate success as a solo artist, with three singles from his debut With Every Touch remaining in the Top 50 on the Gavin/Smoothjazz.com charts for at least eight weeks. He reached even higher ground with his second album, Bringin' It Back , whose single "She's So Fine" remained on the Radio & Records charts for eight straight weeks; two singles from this release reached the Top 100 of the year. After the well received holiday set A Romantic Christmas , Aaron's 15-track third album Desire spawned a variety of hit singles, including "Bumpin' on the Wes Side"; Desire was in the Top 20 on Radio & Records for 15 weeks and #1 on the Indie Charts for 20 weeks. As an artist, Aaron has performed over the years at The Verizon Wireless Ampitheater, Houston, TX , The Taste of Laguna Niguel – Cobilled w/ Peter White, The Catalina Jazz Festival, KWJZ Jazz Festival, Seattle, WA – Cobilled w/ Chris Botti & Boney James, Humphrey's Concerts by the Bay, The Gas Lamp Jazz Festival, San Diego, CA, The Pasadena Jazz Festival, Jazz Alley Jazz Club, Seattle, WA, The Orleans Casino, Las Vegas, NV, The Green Valley Ranch Casino and Resort, Las Vegas, NV, Lake Las Vegas Casino and Resort, The Nugget, Reno, NV, The KJJZ Gardens Concert Series, The WGRV Space Coast Jazz Festival, Melbourne, FL, The WGRV Crowne Plaza Concert Series, Melbourne, FL, The WGRV Hilton Concert Series, Cocoa Beach, FL, The WLOQ Jazz Under the Stars Festival, Orlando, FL, The KQXT 102 Riverwalk Jazz Festival, San Antonio, TX, The KRVR Whitmore Mansion Concert Series, Modesto, CA, The KSBR Birthday Bash Annual Concert, Mission Viejo, CA
In 2008, Aaron created and began hosting his syndicated Blake Aaron Radio Show (now called Blake Aaron Live w Tina Anderson) from its original host station KSBR. Currently fully independent and broadcasting out of L.A. Radio Studios in San Pedro, California, the now two hour weekly program – co-hosted with Tina Anderson, formerly of 94.7 KTWV The Wave and "The Mark and Brian Show" on KLOS – is an artist to artist live music radio show that brings the contemporary groove/smooth jazz listener closer to the artists and their music. It's syndicated on such stations as Smooth Jazz Florida, Smooth Jazz New York, Urban Soul Radio, and Smooth Groove Phoenix, as well as the show's home website, BlakeAaronRadioShow.com
The show is renowned for its live on-the-air musical performances, irreverent comedy, artist personal interviews, and artist stories from the road. While its guest roster has traditionally been smooth/contemporary jazz performers (Boney James, Peter White, Rick Braun, David Benoit, Najee, Mindi Abair, Brian Culbertson, Hiroshima, etc.), Aaron has branched off in recent years to include greats from other genres, including Bill Medley, Anita Baker, Kenny Loggins, Jon Anderson (Yes), Neal Schon (Journey), Bill Champlin (Chicago), Frank Stallone and Ambrosia.
"I've been blessed to have a career that has allowed me to work with so many amazing musicians and share my music with fans all over the world," says Aaron. "Artists often say they are most proud of their latest recording, but with Soul Stories , that's truly how I feel. It's the most expressive of who I am as an artist, representing the many different facets of the music I love and made me who I am. There's literally everything of me on this CD – my heart, blood and sweat, it's all in this record.