Year after year we find great saxophonists, trumpeters, bassists, pianists, drummers that catch our ears and reassure us that jazz continues to be vibrant. But when it comes to vocalists, how many survive the comparison–in our ears–to the singers we have loved in years past? Rarest of all today is the outstanding male jazz voice. Where are the new members of this popular group that once included Johnny Hartman, Joe Williams, Mel Torme, Jimmy Scott, Nat King Cole, Mark Murphy, and Billy Eckstein?
The most intimate voice this side of Arthur Prysock, and his name is Dre of LA.
Dre is from the borough of Lawnside, New Jersey. Lawnside has a long and prominent place in jazz history, and Dre has had a strong commitment to this legacy as both a performer and as a presenter.
Dre’s voice is immediately striking and different from most of his contemporaries. His timbre is uniquely warm and inviting, and can only be compared to the aforementioned Arthur Prysock. When he sings he is telling a story, as every good lyricist intends and hopes for. His phrasing is impeccable; he does not rush his delivery, and the listener comfortably sits back and feels the tale he emotes.
Through friendships he has built through his years as a member of the jazz community, Dre’s CD features outstanding and sympathetic musicians to accompany him on this inaugural release. His band consists of saxophonist Joe Ford, a member of McCoy Tyner’s group for two decades, as well as sideman for countless other stars; guitarist Marvin Horne, who performed and recorded with Elvin Jones as a member of his band; Philadelphia pianist Bernard Samuels has performed with most of the city’s jazz stars including Hank Mobley, Philly Joe Jones, Odean Pope, and Khan Jamal; Charles Beasley has been a been playing bass in Philly since the seventies with most of its great jazz players; and finally, ubiquitous Philadelphia drummer Byron Landham seems to be on every new CD I play, including Joey DeFrancesco, Orrin Evans and has recorded with Frank Wess, Bobby Hutchinson and countless others through the years.
I can’t think of many other contemporary jazz vocalists who sing with the passion, the emotional intelligence, phrasing, and CHOPS of Dre of LA. Listen to this CD and I know you’ll agree.
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What Musical Genre Do You Feel Best Describes Your Music And How Would You Describe Your Sound?
I like to leave the genre assigning duties to the listener.There are elements of several styles of presentation and cultural orientation.
If i had to describe the sound of the music I would say "pleasing"
How Did You Get Your Name? Is There A Story?
There were not many young men named Andre when I came up. I met only one other from K to twelve.around 1963 my older cousin DAVE started calling me Dre..it didnt catch on and he was the only one who called me Dre until the 70s..
L.A. is an abbreviation for a term of endearment used by many long time residents of Lawnside N.J. the oldest all Black incorporated borough east of the Mississippi.Established as a haven for free Blacks and escaped slaves to live without without fear and with self determination. It had an all Black government ..businesses..police force..hospital..and educational system.Thus it was known by the initiated as LITTLE AFRICA.
This is the origin of DRE OF L.A.
What Are or Have Been Your Musical Influences?
Been influenced by every great singer I've ever heared ..in one way or another. Being "untrained" I study vocalists..their sound..technique..tonality..posture..ect..mainly female in my younger years. There is a distinct and recognizable shortage of baritones in the pop world so I always identified with the dynamic females when I was younger and then with the strong bass baritones when my voice changed.
That being said, I identify with the music more so than the one it comes through..from Paul Robeson to Roberta Flack...Nina Simone to Ronnie Dyson..Willie Nelson to Eddie Arnold...Pavarotti to PR....oh well ...you get the point
What Are You Working On Now? Any Future Collaborations We Can Look Forward To?
Finishing the LOVE IS A VERB project...as of this writing. I have another album of original material ready to record....it seems a duty to record some of the wonderful standards that I love...and there is a recording session set in Istanbul for Spring with the fine French/Turkish pianist...
who is a force on the European Jazz scene...
What Is Your Ultimate Goal In The Music Industry? What Is Your Plan Of Action?
I am getting the music out to people who need and appreciate it...as music is a healing force which makes concious musicians healers.
I see myself as outside of the music industry..and I don't believe music should be industrialized because industry mass produces things
and I don't see music as an industry. I really just want to use the available means to get some positive music to the people...my intersest is to travel abroad and make music with great musicians.
What Is Your Favorite Track To Perform Live and Why?
All of the tunes are my favorite. Each has a particular place in my heart. WELL DONE is in tribute to my GREAT AUNT.....she was a woman who believed in education to the point where she ran away from the farm because women in those days "didn't need no education".....she tutored children and adults for over 50 years and even volunteered 3 days a week into her 80s...she lived her religion...so I close alot of shows with this song.....
What Has Been The Biggest Challenge In Your Career Thus Far?
The BULLSHIT. The so called business of music is such a farce in so many ways. I struggle with the pretense cause I just wanna make music but my personality will not allow me to endure The Bullshit.
What’s Your Typical Songwriting Process?
I depend on inspiration from personal experiences and observations as my impetus for writing.seldom ...not ever in memory have i constructed as song just to come up with or produce material. I believe music is a Spirit..a gift..and I make myself available to it. Once I know what I want to say, my writing has to say something of substance and project the positive
How Has Social Media Influenced Your Career As An Artist?
I am basically anti social in that I don't socialize with just anyone for the sake of being social. I clam up around people I don't dig. Vibes are important to me. I have a person to do my social media because thats how folks do it today. But, I'm not really with it.
What Are Some Tracks and Artists Currently On Your Playlist?
Listening to Natalie Trayling, a street performer now. Other than that, I'm stuck in the 70's. Stevie, Aretha, Black Ivory, Blue Magic, Andy Bey, Nancy Wilson.
What Did You Do Before You Started Making Music?
I rested comfortably in my mothers womb. As far as jobs, I've done everything from selling new cars to heavy labor to running a restaurant. I cut trees for a hobby and sing for enjoyment.
Any Advice For Young People (Men or Women) That Want To Succeed In The Music World?
Set realistic goals and don't worry about fame and fortune. Be true to the spirit of the music.
What Would You Change In The Music Industry If You Were A Top Music Executive?
That is such an unimaginable and repulsive question. I am anti-industry in terms of music. The word industry denotes mass production and that ain't what music is about.
How Do You Feel About Originality?
There is nothing new under the sun and where man is concerned, the possibilities are finite. So, I don't know if I really buy into the general concept of originality in terms of music. I think of music in terms of creativity. Since we all clearly add to what preceded us. Well, some of us.