Although AL STRONG is not yet a household name, his newest album, LOVE STRONGER, will surely give him the wide exposure he deserves. Strong is a trumpet and flugelhorn player, composer, arranger, and professor of music. He released his debut recording, Love Strong Vol. 1, in 2015. IndyWeek Magazine said, “Though it’s a clean, cool and virtuosic workshop of a record, Strong mostly sidesteps rigid jazz musicality for raw emotion during these 10 wide-ranging tracks.” Strong continues his passionate embrace of music on LOVE STRONGER with six of his original compositions and four standard and not-so-standards tunes re-imagined with Strong’s soulful touch.
Strong has performed with jazz legends including Aretha Franklin, Branford Marsalis, Adonis Rose, and Mike Phillips, as well as with R&B/Soul artist Eric Roberson, rap music legend Rakim, and The Hamiltones, a Grammy-nominated soul musical group from North Carolina. He has also headlined shows at the Blue Note Jazz Festival, Winter Jazz Fest in NYC, Smoke Jazz Club, and Blues Alley in Washington, DC.
JEREMY ‘BEAN’ CLEMONS, CHRIS PATTISHALL, and KEVIN BEARDSLEY are the core of Strong’s band. Clemons is a drummer who spent years touring the world with Andy Bey, Gregory Porter, and the reggae legend Burning Spear. He co-produced Strong’s previous album and mixed LOVE STRONGER. Pianist Pattishall has worked with the likes of Jimmy Heath, Jon Hendricks, and Wycliffe Gordon. Strong was so impressed by his talents that he began working with him when Pattishall was still in middle school. Strong is also joined by a roster of superb musicians from the Durham area who span the range of musical styles.
Joining Strong are two nationally known jazz stars, pianist SULLIVAN FORTNER and guitarist MARK WHITFIELD, and rising star alto sax player BRAXTON COOK. The band also includes LEWIS HAWKINS (tenor sax), BREVAN HAMPDEN (percussion), THURMAN ‘PEANUT’ WOODS (electric bass), MARC CARY (Fender Rhodes), RYAN HANSELER (piano), (alto sax), BLUFORD THOMPSON, JR. (tenor sax), CHARLES ‘CHUCKEY’ ROBINSON (piano), and HUGH SWASO (guitar). Also featured are two outstanding vocalists, GABRIEL CAVASSA, who was the co- winner of the 2021 International Sarah Vaughan Jazz Vocal Competition, and Durham favorite SHAVONA BURTON. A string quartet, which includes TREVOR WIGNAL (violin), AUTUMN BRAND (violin), MATTHEW BRANT (viola), and KENNETH STEWART (cello) appear on the classic, LEVAS (“Lift Every Voice and Sing”).
One does not usually associate North Carolina as a place that produces great modern jazz artists but listening to Al Strong’s enormous talent and the creativity and energy of his band, that perception will soon change. Strong has begun to attract the attention of major artists, and he recently opened for renowned R&B/jazz artist Ledisi. LOVE STRONGER is an exciting showcase for Strong’s affective playing, composing, technical mastery, and lush arrangements.
1. Lullaby For The Ancestors 2:00
2. At-Nimara’s Journey 6:42
3. Pure Imagination 6:24
4. Out My Mind, Just In Time 5:24
5. The Dog Who Always Finds His Way Home 6:44
6. Bull City Bounce 5:31
7. Fly Me To The Moon 7:30
8. Black Love 5:47
9. Old Town Diera 7:48
10. Lift Every Voice And Sing (LEVAS) 8:16
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