“Every performance and recording presents an opportunity to bring happiness to a world of listeners. Music has an unparalleled ability to make a difference in our lives. I continue to appreciate how it can inspire people through good and bad times and never take for granted the opportunity I have been given to play a small role in someone’s life,” reflects Brian Simpson.
The celebrated and genre-bending pianist, composer and producer has long reigned as a guiding light on the Contemporary Jazz scene. Revered for his Midas touch, Simpson’s trademark sound is known for soul-stirring love songs, hit-making party anthems and emotive and captivating melodies.
On June 16, 2023, Brian Simpson will make a Soul Connection on his eleventh album as a leader and eighth for Shanachie Entertainment. The anticipated recording is the perfect amalgamation of influences that are close to Simpson’s heart: Jazz, R&B, Funk, Blues and Soul and a healthy dose of optimism. His eloquent touch, sophisticated harmonic sensibility and bluesy overtones shine on each of the album’s ten tracks.
Hailing from Gurnee, Illinois, Brian Simpson always knew music would play center stage in his life. “Our house was filled with music. My older brother and sister both played instruments, and my brother’s rock band rehearsed in our living room every weekend,” shares the keyboardist. “My dad listened to jazz with such a keen ear. I learned to enjoy the beauty of a great jazz solo and how to discern the musicians with great phrasing from listening to music with him.”
After graduating from Northern Illinois University, Simpson relocated to Los Angeles where he quickly immersed himself in the local jazz scene. Late night jazz sessions found him playing alongside everyone from saxophonists Everette Harp and Boney James to guitarist Norman Brown. The free-spirited musician soon found himself taking a temporary leave of absence from the jazz scene, touring the world with pop divas Teena Marie, Sheena Easton, and Janet Jackson. His foray into the pop world didn’t end there; in January 1991 he co-wrote the #1 Pop hit “The First Time” by Surface, which conquered both the R&B and Adult Contemporary charts.
Placing his success in pop aside, Brian Simpson has always been a working jazz musician. He has toured with some of the greats of recent jazz history, including George Duke, Stanley Clarke, Larry Carlton, George Howard, Billy Cobham, and Gerald Albright. Brian has been the musical director for jazz saxophonist Dave Koz for close to 20 years, and for close to a decade the Musical Director of the ambitious and highly popular “The Smooth Jazz Cruise.”
Simpson’s breakthrough as a solo artist began in 2005 with the #1 radio hit “It’s All Good.” The title track of It’s All Good proved instantly and joyfully prophetic, as it hit #1 on the Radio & Records Smooth Jazz Airplay chart and remained in the Top 5 for four months. His follow-up single, “Saturday Cool,” went Top 15. In 2007 Simpson released Above the Clouds, which delivered the memorable radio hits “What Cha Gonna Do?” (Top 10) and “Juicy” (Top 15). In 2010 Simpson released South Beach whose title track snagged a #1 slot on the charts. Just What You Need followed in 2013 featuring the Antônio Carlos Jobim/Vinicius de Moraes classic “The Girl From Ipanema” which hit #1 on the charts and “Emerald City,” a top 3 hit. 2015’s Out Of A Dream featured the Top Ten single “Skywatcher,” while 2016 saw the release of Persuasion which showcased the top 10 single “Wonderland.” Something About You was released in 2018, highlighting the Top 5 single “Morning Samba” and in 2021, Simpson joined forces with Steve Oliver for the dynamic collaboration Unified.
With the release of Soul Connection, Brian Simpson is poised to further endear himself to his devoted international following. He concludes, “I have what I consider the greatest job in the world. I feel like I have much more music to make, and I can hardly wait to make it.”
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