Fans of slammin’ yet radio-ready, Jazz-Funk Fusion, will rejoice upon the discovery of bassist/composer Mitchell Coleman Jr.! Coleman, a disciple of the Stanley Clarke, Larry Graham, Louis Johnson and Marcus Miller schools of The Throwdown, is still in awe of the success of the 2015 release of his debut CD, Soul Searching. Soul Searching is described as a musical journey of self-exploration – which fulfilled Mitchell’s lifelong dream of expressing the music that’s been in his heart since he began thumpin’ basses at the tender age of 10.
Coleman is excited to announce the release of his new single “Journey”, a fan favorite off his latest album Perception. “Journey” features saxophonist Michael Bolivar, guitarist Josh Sklair, pianist Michael B. Sutton and backing vocals by Dionyza Sutton. “We produced it with the thought in mind of hoping people would feel the movement from one segment of the song to the other as it changes instruments from sax, to guitar, to piano solo (yours truly) to vocals” said Sutton. Get ready for the radio release date, slated for March 2017. Journey is available now via iTunes.
Perception, was independently released in April 2016 on Mitchell’s own Soul Revelations Records label. Once again partnering with veteran Motown producer Michael B. Sutton, Perception displays Mitchell’s musical growth and artistic development. His experimental sound genre-hops from Jazz to Hip Hop to R&B proving his versatility as an artist.
The album’s first single “Funkatized” premiered nationally on various Billboard Smooth Jazz radio stations, as one of the Top 5 most added tracks. In Mitchell’s own words “Funkatized” stimulates the soul inside of you, giving you an instantly danceable, funky, feel-good track.”
The new album brings the listener closer into the psyche of Mitchell Coleman Jr. as displayed in the infectious track “ Interfuse” and the ethereal “ Journey”. Mitchell also does a tribute to the “ Snarky Puppy” aficionado’s with the slammin’ “Redemption”. Perhaps two of the hidden gems on the CD are “Enchanted Summer” and a classic Crusaders/Randy Crawford remake of “Street Life” sung by Dionyza Sutton (High School
Musical, Cheetah Girls) who’s amazing voice embodies the legendary Randy Crawford. To top things off Mitchell brings hip-hop rapper Shorty Mac (Ray Jay, Moesha) on the track “Brand New Day”.
The album also features top industry legends including: Michael Bolivar (former saxophonist for The Ojay’s, Aretha Franklin), legendary guitar player David T. Walker, James Gadson (former drummer for Herbie Hancock, BB King, Quincy Jones), Josh Sklair (former guitarist for Etta James) and many more!
Mitchell Coleman Jr. was born the day after Christmas of `67 in Meridian, Mississippi. He spent his early years in Cuba, Alabama. When his father returned home from Vietnam, he moved the family first to Hartford then Bloomfield, Connecticut. There, Mitchell fell in love hard with electric bass. “In Bloomfield, nobody was into basketball or anything like that - everybody played bass. My friend Greg Carrington was THE baddest bass player in town – a beast to bow down to. I begged him to teach me. He and Kevin Weaverbey laid it all out for me. The first song I ever learned was “Just the Two of Us” by Grover Washington, Jr. & Bill Withers with Marcus Miller on bass - then came the calluses and blisters.”
Mitchell received full support from his family, especially his mother Mary Ruth Coleman who bought him his first bass (a short-neck Sears special for kids that Mitchell wound up detuning to get the sounds he wanted – ironically helping him develop the sounds he gets now) and his Aunt Orcie Delaine who used her credit card to buy his first real bass. When his parents divorced, Mitchell moved back to Alabama but all his cousins and friends had moved away. “Bass became my babysitter,” Mitchell states. And once again Marcus Miller proved inspirational when Mitchell discovered what became the Funk-Jazz blend of his wildest dreams in David Sanborn’s LP, Straight From The Heart. It was really on now.
During a stint in the United States Air Force (45th Group - telecommunications), the outfit forced Mitchell into a talent show where he won First Place performing his original song, “That’s Life.” He began to gig around the Rome and Syracuse, New York blues clubs surrounding Griffith
Air Force Base with a group led by Rick Montalbano (future MD for Lou Rawls). He also took two semesters of music theory classes to further improve his craft. And closely watching the sidemen of artists ranging from Be-Bop king Dizzy Gillespie to Quiet Storm queen Anita Baker further illuminated the art of the bass’ supportive role within the music.
Straight out of the service, Mitchell moved to Hollywood intending to study at B.I.T. (Bass Institute of Technology) but had to pay the bills with electrical engineering jobs. However, the universe found another way to provide Mitchell a final profound education upon his introduction to the music of master fretless electric bassist Jaco Pastorius, thanks to a music store clerk that sent him home with the artist’s self-titled debut LP. “At first, discovering Jaco depressed me by revealing how much I didn’t know,” Mitchell admits. “Then he inspired me by showing me how much further I could go. His song ‘Portrait of Tracy’ really messed me up. Learning how to play it took me to another plateau.”
Soon after a chance meeting with Otis Williams, founding member of Motown’s The Temptations (to whom his military buddy Terry Weeks became a member),
Mitchell found himself in the mix of music’s unsung behind the scenes side. He began studio work with a group called Ninth Chakra led by Cario Johnson. And it was at one of those sessions that Mitchell met keyboardist Herman “Hollywood” Dawkins – a soul mate in the mission of Jazz-Funk Fusion. “The first time we hit, we were like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups: ‘Man, you got jazz on my funk…and it’s soundin’ really good!’ Hollywood is the mastermind of making what’s in my head tangible. Our motto is: With Funk as our vehicle let Jazz be our journey.”
Together, Mitchell and Hollywood cooked up what became the initial tracks for his debut CD, Soul Searching, fortified by the presence of top shelf talents such as keyboardist Deron Johnson, guitarists Kayta Matsuno and Sean Fabian, saxophonists Tim Anderson and Sal Avila, veteran
vocalists Jim Gilstrap, Pamela & Joyce Vincent, and newcomer singers Sean Thomas and Nodesha. After Mitchell pressed and sold copies of that first version of the CD on-line, a mutual friend steered veteran producer Michael B. Sutton his way who provided cherry on top polish to the proceedings. “Michael is a great guy – he spoke my language and I fell in love with him right away,” Mitchell says. “As a producer and consultant, he is a gatekeeper with great ideas which I needed and appreciate.”
Essentially, Michael amplified the heart of Mitchell within three songs, including the funky single “Flow.” Deeper still were two others. First is the cinematically percussive “Ethiopia Love,” inspired by Mitchell’s wife Tsegereda. “I met her in Cali but I did not want to marry her without her father’s approval. So I made the 20-hour flight to Africa. When I arrived, it was like Eddie Murphy ‘Coming to America’ only in reverse - beautiful people, physically and spiritually. I dedicate ‘Ethiopia Love’ to the people of Ethiopia.” The other standout is “When Your Life Was Low,” another radio favorite featuring the voice of Michael’s daughter, Dionyza Sutton (pronounced dee-ahn-jah) with its profoundly moving lyrics. “In life, I’ve always been a giver…but givers always have to watch out for the takers,” Mitchell muses. “That song touched me in that respect.”
Now Mitchell Coleman Jr. is shakin’ things up again and giving fans a taste of Hip Hop, Jazz, Funk and R&B, further challenging himself as an artist. This time around Mitchell isn’t holding back- taking his swiftly expanding audience on a musical journey that has only just begun.
NEWS / In a year that has been devastating in the losses the music world has experienced, we are sad to report another. James Jamerson, Jr., one of the greatest R&B bass players ever – and the son of perhaps the most noted R&B bass player ever - has died.
James Jamerson Sr. was an integral part of the emergence of the Motown label in the 1960s, his unique bass work being the foundation of so many of the great Funk Brothers performances for just about every Motown act. So, when his son, James Jr, picked up the bass, people took notice. It is often difficult for a child to perform in the shadow of his or her parent, and the senior Jamerson, who died in 1983, cast a large shadow in the music world. But rather than shrivel in that shadow, James Jr. cast his own spotlight, developing into a musician who would be lauded worldwide for his virtuosity.
The Detroit-born James Jr. began his public notoriety by playing in the Temptations road band in the late 60s, but soon developed into arguably the most sought-after bass player in the R&B world, playing on albums of such notables as Tavares, The Four Tops, The 5th Dimension, The Crusaders, Johnny Taylor, The Dramatics, Teena Marie and countless others. He also toured with Natalie Cole, Chaka Khan and may other greats, and appeared in the movie Standing In The Shadows of Motown. In the late 70s, Jamerson formed the group Chanson and landed a hit with “Don’t Hold Back.” And, importantly, he developed his own style as a player that many felt took his father’s legacy in a new and exciting direction.
Sadly, illness became a constant companion of James Jr. over the past few years. I last saw him in early 2016, appearing with Motown arranger Paul Riser, Sr. and others at a wonderful community event in Detroit celebrating Motown history. He was clearly struggling physically, but roused the audience to a frenzy by pulling out his bass and working through the intro of “Papa Was a Rolling Stone.”
It is difficult to lose one’s father early, and just as difficult to enter into the same business. But James Jamerson, Jr. did both, and did them with class and with unbounded talent. He became the kind of man and musician that extended the Jamerson family and Motown tradition for excellence into the 21st Century. And his influence on bass players will continue for years to come. Godspeed, James. (Bron: Soultracks.com)