A Long History
The contemporary jazz band known as Pieces of a Dream formed in Philadelphia in 1976. As very young men, they became a staple of smooth jazz radio airplay in the early and mid-1980s. The original band consisted of James Lloyd on keyboard, Curtis Harmon on drums, and Cedric Napoleon on bass. Lloyd and Harmon remain, and they are the duo featured on Pieces of a Dream’s new album cover.
Pieces of a Dream Marks History
The album, “Just Funkin’ Around” commemorates Pieces of a Dream’s 40-year history. A nearly half-century of existence is no small feat for any band. Considering the fluctuations of public opinion, musical trends, changes in the music industry and other possible variations, Pieces of a Dream has reason to celebrate.
In their time as a band, the group has worked with notable jazz personalities, including Maysa Leak, and the late saxophonist Grover Washington, Jr.
Pieces of a Dream has had success throughout their multi-decade career, including 2015’s “All In.” The group continues to make smooth jazz that sounds contemporary and timeless all at once.
Right Back Atcha
The recording’s opening track is an R&B-inspired, musical smirk. It is the smile and finger gun point that lets a person know he or she is among friends. The very title is a celebration. For the uninitiated, jazz, all types (because if a person is unfamiliar with jazz, there are no subgenres), is serious and associated with Beat Poets. The fusion types that combine with rock or r&b, seem not to exist.
This friendly greeting of a recording includes a saxophone variation that affords the song the right amount of tension. The keyboard is lively and when it is showcased it ranges from a chiming quality to an almost stride piano roll at certain points. The bass stays bouncy and it sounds like the groove foundation on which the song is built.
A New Day
Shimmery percussion encourages all the instruments to play lightly. This is in contrast to “Right Back Atcha.” The tone does not sound serious, but the groove is more mellow, but the sound is pure, smooth jazz. It seems appropriate that the album capture a variety of moods, especially if it is to account for 40 years of music-making.
The track weaves around a classic theme for four-and-a-half minutes. To some listeners, that might feel a bit long without greater ups and down, or more variances in intensity.
Smooth Jazz By Veteran Performers
What is disappointing sometimes is when classic artists refuse to sound like who they are. A deviation from a group’s standard sound risks alienating longtime fans, but variety is necessary for survival. Prospective fans will appreciate the musicianship, and longtime fans will be glad to hear Pieces of a Dream still have a firm grasp on the elements of smooth jazz.
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