For many modern soul connoisseurs, Bilal is considered an “A-lister” in the movement and deemed the benchmark for how nu-soul vocalist are judged. The Philadelphia-raised vocalist entered into the game in the early naughts with virtually no peer who could match his raw, soulful prowess. His sound is forever indebted to classic styles that came before him and jazz seems to be the cornerstone of said sound. It’s no wonder that he is still going strong after 15 years and doesn’t seem to appear to be slowing down anytime soon! We were so honored to be able to grab him after his epic performance at the legendary Atlanta event, The Funk Jazz Kafe. He touched on the importance of this music and why it continues to help shape the cultural landscape of modern pop after all these years. Bilal proves once again why he remains so relevant in an industry that cares little about it’s primary commodity, music.
When one speaks of jazz-funk and modern music in general, one would be remiss if they didn’t mention Larry Rosen. As part owner of one of the greatest labels in jazz, GRP, Mr. Rosen has helped launch the careers of many legends such as Angela Bofill, Bernard Wright, Tom Browne, George Howard, The Crusaders, Dave Valentin, Noel Pointer, Jon Lucien and many, many more. He is also a cutting edge figure in the world of music technology, with his label releasing the first non-classical record on compact disc and also offering the very first music downloads. This is a man who has always been literally stepping into tomorrow! He is also a staunch supporter of the arts and jazz enthusiast who is on the frontline of the jazz preservation movement along with his good friend, Quincy Jones. His contribution to this film is immeasurable and it goes with out saying that we are extremely honored to have him in the number!
The 20th century birthed the blues, jazz, R&B, rock ‘n’ roll, soul, funk, disco, punk, techno, house, hip-hop and countless sub genres. For those of us born in that century, we were truly blessed to witness and be apart of a history that may never be repeated. As we move deeper into the 21st century, many of us are pondering what will the future of music look and feel like. This is a pretty loaded question because there were a plethora of diverse factors that attributed to the creation of what we now know as popular music culture. Some sociological, some purely artistic. But one thing we know for sure is that the artist who can master all of these styles and create a fusion that is unique to them, will stand out in music’s ever-crowded marketplace. This film will not only address the genre of jazz-funk/fusion and it’s importance to everything that came out it, but it will also address why this genre, out of all genres, is an extremely vital example of the aforementioned ethos. The future looks bright, so pull out your shades! #steppingintotomorrow #moviecomingsoon
When one thinks of what the future of jazz & music will look like, then you don’t have to look any further than New Zealand-born keyboardist, Mark De Clive Lowe. For over 15 years, he has been releasing music that defies category and that helped usher in a new sound in jazz and music in general. Applying a hip-hop/dance aesthetic to his production techniques has placed him in a class of it’s own and his work with the London-based collective, Bugz In The Attic, has cemented his status as a leader in next level sound creations. His work with the likes of jazz luminaries like Harvey Mason and Shirley Horn showcases his unique touch that straddles the line between traditional and futuristic. We are extremely honored to have him has one of the cast members of the documentary “Stepping Into Tomorrow”. #steppingintotomorrow #moviecomingsoon
Recently, we lost the great jazz-funk keyboardist Joe Sample and it made me think about Robert Glasper, who is also from Mr. Sample’s hometown, Houston, TX. I thought about how Joe Sample and his band, The Crusaders, forged a new path for jazz music in the 1970’s. I also thought about how Mr. Sample wasn’t scared to play on records from soul artist like Marvin Gaye and Minnie Ripperton. He understood that jazz was/is a spirit, that if injected into other styles, it makes them better. Robert Glasper does the same thing in the 21st century and really parallels Joe Sample’s life and career. His melding of jazz, soul, hip-hop and being one of the pioneers in “post-Dilla jazz”, has set him in a league of his own. His eyes are on the future and rarely looking behind him. #steppingintotomorrow #moviecomingsoon
For the discerning golden era hip-hop lover, Pete Rock garners the same amount of respect in the genre that Miles Davis receives in jazz. His work as part of the duo, Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth, and also his solo production efforts are the things of legend and we were so honored when he gave us a small piece of his time. He spoke about the greatness of James Brown, why sampling help cultivate a new generation of soul & jazz lovers and why jazz-funk/fusion was the style that many producers from his era gravitated towards. #steppingintotomorrow #moviecomingsoon
When we interviewed Michael League, leader/bassist for the band Snarky Puppy, we knew that we were getting a great perspective from a child of the jazz-funk/fusion era. We also knew that his band was one of the leading young groups to keep the spirit of jazz-funk/fusion alive in the 21st century. We had no idea, however, that they would go on to win a Grammy the following year for Best R&B performance alongside the incomparable, Lalah Hathaway! They are living proof that this music is still viable in today’s market and will continue to thrive for generations to come. #steppingintotomorrow #moviecomingsoon
The very first interview that we did for the film, Stepping Into Tomorrow, was with Jean Paul “Bluey” Maunick, leader of the legendary UK contemporary jazz-funk outfit, Incognito. I don’t know if we could have started off any better because Bluey literally embodies the spirit of jazz-funk/fusion and is really a bridge figure between the classic sound and the modern sound. His stories about growing up in London’s rich club culture, being a progenitor of the acid jazz movement and why J-Dilla is “the last great jazz-funk musician”, will leave you wanting more from him. #steppingintotomorrow #moviecomingsoon
It’s always great to get a chance to talk with musical pioneers who have been around over 40 years in the business. He’s done it all musically. I had to agree with Jamal Ahmad when he said that Al is basically “the voice of Jazz Funk”. So, we had to get him for this documentary to share his inspiring stories. We had the honor and privilege to talk with him for “Stepping Into Tomorrow”. When we caught up with him he was sprout and excited about his show with the Atlanta Symphony at Chastain Park. He sang, laughed and educated us thuroughly. Here are some behind-the-scene images from that interview.