* BIOGRAPHY – Frank McComb
* ALBUM REVIEW: Frank McComb – “Tribute To The Masters”
* ALBUM REVIEW: Frank McComb – “1995 Bootleg”
* ALBUM REVIEW: Frank McComb – “Straight From The Vault”
“The condition of being free of restraints. Liberty of the person from slavery, detention, or oppression. Exemption from the arbitrary exercise of authority in the performance of a specific action; civil liberty: freedom of assembly. Exemption from an unpleasant or onerous condition. The capacity to exercise choice; free will…”
In today’s musical world I can think of no other artist who takes his “FREEDOM” more seriously than Mr. Frank McComb. He uses his status as an “independent artist” to create some of the most progressive and diverse music on the scene. He also creates and distributes his own music on his own terms. Over the course of the last 18 months, Frank McComb has released 3 outstanding albums, all of which we are going to review for you.
In some publications you may see Frank McComb labeled as something like “King of the Indy Soul Artists”. I am here to let you know that to label Frank McComb as ANYTHING is a serious mistake. But I will say this about him, Frank McComb is a throwback to an time when artists TOOK NO PRISONERS and demanded not only the very best from himself, but also demands from you the listener your full attention. He wants to be the BEST and he wants you to let him know if he’s moving in the right direction.
Let him know what you think of the result.
Read the reviews, and go to his website @ frankmccomb.com and let him know what you think about his particular “exercise of freedom”?
BIOGRAPHY – Frank McComb
It all started in February of 1983.Church had just ended and my aunt, Evelina Palmer was still playing on the church piano. She made it look so easy so I asked her to teach me to play, but I wasn’t expecting to start THAT DAY. She scheduled my lessons for 1 hour every Sunday after church but mysteriously they ended after the 3rd week, so if you really do the math I had 3 hours of piano training. The seed was planted deep inside me, it just took for God to use someone to water it so the flower could begin to grow. By the summer of 1985 I was playing in clubs around Cleveland, Ohio embraced by all the veteran musicians. I couldn’t seem to get any favor from the school of the performing arts I was attending at the time, but instead found favor with club owners. In 1988, I started a trio and we gigged all throughout Ohio and Erie, Pa. By this time, I was attending Glenville High School and was finding favor with the principle, who allowed me to leave early everyday as long as I stayed on top of my school work and reported to my homeroom class every morning by 7:30am. I also found favor with the Cleveland Teacher’s Union who hired us for many of their functions.
I was the youngest musician on the scene at the time so other band members supplied my transportation until I saved up enough loot to buy my own hoopty. Of course, my mother had no idea I owned a car. The DMV didn’t either, given the fact that I hadn’t owned a driver’s license yet. I was ALWAYS working. Some days I would leave school by 12 noon to work on cars with a man named Jesse Ramsey (he was my mentor at the time), take a nap for a few hours, tweak my Fender Rhodes, throw it in the trunk of my car then go play my gig. There were many nights after gigging I wouldn’t get home until 4:00am, because I would drive down E.72nd street (and St. Clair) to Lake Erie to write songs, study music or just simply enjoy the quiet.
After graduating from Glenville High I was asked to be in the band for The Rude Boys, a male R&B vocal group signed to Atlantic Records thanks to Gerald LeVert, which lead to my first touring gig. They eventually appointed me as their musical director and we toured throughout the summer of 1991. When the tour took us through Philadelphia I had the opportunity to meet D.J. Jazzy Jeff who, over time, talked me into moving there. The tour ended in September so I packed up the few things I owned and left Ohio to find my place in the world. Once I got settled in Philly I was introduced to one of the greatest songwriting duos in music history. I’m speaking of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff who put me on payroll as a musician in their camp at Philadelphia International Records. I moved literally down the street from the hit-making headquarters so that I could walk to work every day.
Living in Philly left a lasting impression on me, one I’ll never forget. While working on a session with Gamble & Huff I met a gentleman by the name of Steve McKeever who was scouting talent for a new label he masterminded called MoJazz, a jazz -oriented label of Motown Records.
I performed live for him on the spot. Afterwards he listened to a recording of a song I had written and poorly recorded on a Tascam four track recorder entitled “Time and Time Again”. Papers were signed almost immediately and a trip to Los Angeles to visit the company followed shortly after. Before I knew it LA had quickly become my home. A lot of business changes took place during the few years I was at MoJazz and after being at the label with 2 albums worth of unreleased material, I decided it was time to let it go.
It was nothing personal…just politics and money which caused me to get lost in the shuffle.
While waiting on my letter of release from MoJazz I toured as a musician for Teena Marie and Philip Bailey until I got a call from an employee at the company saying that Branford Marsalis was looking for a male vocalist for a band he was putting together called Buckshot LeFonque. I looked at it as another disappointment in the making, but I took the chance anyway. I recorded the song “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” as the demo he requested and ended up getting the gig. Before I knew it I was in the band. It just goes to show that leaving Motown/MoJazz wasn’t personal because it was Steve McKeever, who at the time was president of MoJazz, that recommended me for the job because he felt I was capable of getting the job done….THANKS, STEVE!
With Buckshot LeFonque I recorded two albums (Buckshot LeFonque & Music Evolution) and toured all over the globe which led to my 2nd recording contract with Columbia Records. In the summer of 1999 I recorded what turned out to be my debut album. “Love Stories” was born on March 14, 2000. Great record, no support. Once again I found myself lost in the shuffle because of the issues of politics and money. After a couple of years of sitting on the Columbia shelf, I asked to be released and without hesitation they released me from my contract. They, as well as Motown could easily have tied me up, but God’s favor on my life didn’t allow them to.
After my past experiences with two major record companies (one being black, the other white) I felt that maybe I needed to be with an independent company, a smaller company that would be able to give more time and dedication to their artist(s). That opportunity came in 2002 when I signed to Malibu Sessions. I ended up being the only artist on their roster. It was then that I would go on to record my second album “The Truth” which was desperately sought after by America but so easy to find in Europe and Japan. The company only licensed the album to “Expansion Music” (England) and “Toy’s Factory” (Japan) instead of partnering with a major distributor which caused America and other countries to have to pay as much as $35.00 for the CD. As if THAT wasn’t enough, I began hearing from fans of my work that the music I recorded for MoJazz was selling on the black market for as much as $50.00 per cd…unmixed, never mastered, no artwork and obviously as a CDR. It was then that I decided to clean house and take the chance to do things on my own. After all, what did I have to lose? Over a period of 4 years I had recorded a large number of songs at home with no special purpose for them. I was led to do it. I placed them in what I call my “vault” and left them there until the right time came for me to use them.
Reviewing my history and remembering all my dark experiences I decided it was time to open my vault and pull out some of those tracks to share with the world. Since it was so hard for people to get the music I released with record companies (and never OFFICIALLY released-when they DID find it they had to pay a ridiculous price for it) why not record, package and sell my own music directly to the buying public? I believe this will cut out all the detours, layovers, traffic lights, stop signs and anything else causing delays for people who want my music. This lead to the release of my 3rd album “Straight from the Vault” through my own production company Boobeescoot Music. With this machine I pray that I can continue to record and release the kind of music I grew up listening to years ago when real chord changes existed, songs had a subject and the most important…there was integrity.
ALBUM REVIEW: Frank McComb – “Tribute To The Masters”
1. Frank McComb is quickly establishing himself as the “James Brown of indy soul artist scene”.
2. Any album that pays tribute to Chick Corea is going to bring a smile to someone who uses “earthjuice” as his email handle.
3. He’s raising the stakes for ALL of the “indy soul artists” (and quite a few of them ain’t gonna be able to hang).
Of course you all know who Frank is by now, he’s become the leader of the so called “indy soul artist” scene. However I like to think of him as being “the bridge”. He’s a former Motown artist who got screwed by the music industry in the 1990’s and he also appeared on the one of the best albums of the 1990’s (Buckshot LeFonque – “Music Evolution”). So Frank is a little older & wiser than the typical “indy soul artist”. Over the past 18 months Frank has released 3 very serious albums of music (thus the comparison to James Brown). He’s been a true maverick, making a living selling these albums off of his kitchen table to music fans all over the world via the internet and at his live shows.
On his latest release called “Tribute To The Masters”, Frank flips the script on us and goes totally “retro” and “instrumental”. Anybody here remember a book about basketball called “Elevating the Game”? Well “Elevating the Game” could just as well have been the title for this album. Frank is throwing down the gauntlet and challenging his “indy soul artist” peers to “elevate their game” beyond being a bunch of boring stevie/donny sound-alikes”. On “Tribute To the Masters” he is challenging them to REALLY explore 1970’s Black music and put their own spin on it. More than a few of these artists either won’t “get it” or they will wisely decide to “take two steps to the rear” after they hear this album. Hell yeah it’s “retro”, but it just might propel a whole generation of folks into the future.
There was once a radio station in NYC that was just about perfect in every way. WRVR was the kind of station that seriously funky in it’s approach it sucked you in to a huge vortex called jazz and it did so in a way that made you forget about the aloof image that the term jazz sometimes conjures up. It was respectful to the historical legacy of the music, yet it modernized the approach in such a way that R&B fans dug the station. As you can see from the album title as well as the song titles Frank McComb is paying tribute to some of the keyboard masters (ex: Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Patrice Rushen, George Duke) from the era in which WRVR reigned supreme.
When you buy this album here is my advice. You may be tempted to put it take it home and play it immediately. I’m going to suggest that you put the album into your car and wait for just the right opportunity to listen for the first time. The vibe of this album is “bright lights, big city”. The optimum situation to hear Frank McComb – “Tribute To The Masters” for the very first time is while driving around in a city at night. Oh it doesn’t matter which city, it could be a small one or a large one, it could be during the winter or the summer, you could be alone or have passengers, it really doesn’t matter. But as soon as the music starts playing you will know what WRVR sounded like and I guarantee that it will make you smile. As you cruise thru the city streets and the sights within will all take on a different kind of presence. The buildings, the people, the smells, the sidewalks will all come alive and you will be left with the knowledge of why our often maligned cities are such exciting places to be.
When I was a young adult that is exactly how listening to WRVR made me feel as I drove around NYC listening to the radio. You see what the radio station did was actually make you imagine New York City itself as a higher possibility and that you as a part of New York City had a role to play in making those possibilities into a reality. The wonderful thing about all of this was that the radio station itself could take you to that higher level of consciousness without the use of any “mind altering substances”.
That is EXACTLY what Frank McComb’s – “Tribute To The Masters” does for me!
(just buy it yall, it’s some badd azz stuff) http://www.frankmccomb.info/
And yeah, Frank will send you a copy direct from his kitchen table…
Track Listing For: Frank McComb – “Tribute To The Masters”
1. Chick (for Chick)
2. E. 72nd St (for Patrice Rushen)
3. Asia (for Russell Ferante and Joe Sample)
4. Movin in Traffic (For Russell Ferante)
5. Just Ride (for George Duke)
6. Cha Cha (for Ramsey Lewis)
7. Patrice (for Patrice Rushen)
8. If it Wasn’t For Herbie and Chick (for Herbie & Chick)
9. Duke (for George Duke)
ALBUM REVIEW: Frank McComb – “1995 Bootleg”
The first thing that you notice about our friend Frank McComb’s – “The 1995 Bootleg” is the album cover. It’s stark white, except for Frank’s name and a rather large black construction worker’s boot. I suppose that there are several messages that could be taken from this sort of imagery, but for the purposes of this review, we will assume that it’s refering to the fact that Frank is in fact “bootlegging” himself with this CD.
Soul-Patrol has been a big fan of Frank McComb since his days with Buckshot LeFonque. In fact in many ways Frank McComb could rightly be called the “father of Neo Soul”, since he was doing it long before that un godly marketing term ever came to our attention. “The 1995 Bootleg” contains music that Frank says was originally recorded for MoJazz and selling on the black market for as much as $50.00 per cd…unmixed, never mastered, no artwork and obviously as a CDR. So armed with that information, he decided to release it on his own.
After listening to this CD I really am at a loss to understand why it wasn’t released by Motown back in 1995. This CD is slammin. Do you like Donny, Stevie, Herbie, CTI and Blue Note all rolled into one? If so, then you will dig this album. It’s pretty much represents the type of first class consistent instrumental/vocal performance we have come to expect from Frank McComb. However there is one real surprise here when you get to track number 8 “Do You Remember Love?”. This song sounds like the type of thing that might have resulted had Stevie Wonder and Micheal Jackson hooked up and said: “lets go into the studio and make one slammin/mind blowing funk track & not tell anyone what we are doing”.
ALBUM REVIEW: Frank McComb – “Straight From The Vault”
We have a long history on Soul-Patrol with the music of Frank McComb. Starting in 1997 when we named the CD Music Evolution” by Buckshot LeFounque as the #1 FUNK Music release of the year. Frank McComb is of course the featured vocalist on that groundbreaking CD. A few years later in the year 2000 we picked up on the Frank McComb release called “Love Stories”. In some ways the album “Love Stories” changed the course of the history of Soul-Patrol because it began our transformation to being more than just an “oldies site”. “Love Stories” was such a good album that it forced us to open things up and begin exploring other modern artists who were below the radar and putting out great music. Fast forward to 2006, Frank McComb is now an “indy artist” with his latest release (actually from 2005, but we will count it for 2006) called “Straight from the Vault”. This is a really nice album that to my ears recalls some of the best work of an artist like Pieces of a Dream, Angela Bofil or even Stevie Wonder/Donny Hathaway. Strong vocals and strong keyboard playing is in evidence here and I think that most Soul-Patrollers will enjoy the music on this CD. Perhaps most of all I would like to see music fans embrace the independent spirit of Frank McComb! For example, check out this quote from his website…“I believe this will cut out all the detours, layovers, traffic lights, stop signs and anything else causing delays for people who want my music. This lead to the release of my 3rd album “Straight from the Vault” through my own production company Boobeescoot Music. With this machine I pray that I can continue to record and release the kind of music I grew up listening to years ago when real chord changes existed, songs had a subject and the most important…there was integrity. “
(we like that kind of thing)