The urban-jazz maestro will launch his “Velvet Groove” movement on February 14 with a disc featuring a bouquet of contemporary jazz luminaries.
LOS ANGELES (14 December 2017): When he isn’t anchoring the beats as a first-call drummer for a virtual who’s who list of contemporary jazz stars, Eric “Mr. Chocolate” Valentine has been locked away in his Chocolate Cave studios near Los Angeles conceiving and crafting “Velvet Groove,” the first of what he envisions to be a movement of urban and jazz “music you can feel.” With the title track enriched by hypnotic trumpet forays from Rick Braun and sultry sax embellishments by Richard Elliot already in the Billboard Top 20, Matcha Entertainment will issue the album produced by Valentine on Valentine’s Day 2018.
Stepping out from behind his drum kit, Valentine thrives plying his skills as a songwriter and multi-instrumentalist on “Velvet Groove,” playing keyboards, synths, bass, vocals, percussion and drums on the disc comprised of ten full songs - nine of which he penned or co-penned – along with three reprises. The star power illuminating the high-level session of deft rhythms and grooves include Grammy winner Kirk Whalum, multiple Grammy nominee Gerald Albright and chart-toppers Elliot, Braun, Adam Hawley, Elan Trotman, Brian Simpson and Greg Manning. Pianist Wayne Linsey, jazz fusion guitarist Alex Machacek, and percussionists Lenny Castro, Munyungo Jackson and Ramon Islas are among those who texturize the lush tracks.
A vital element to Valentine’s vibrant melodies and “sing-able” harmonies, and an important contributor to what he calls “my Velvet Groove community” is R&B vocalist B. Valentine (formerly known as Baskerville Jones), Eric’s wife, who can be heard cooing soulfully throughout the album and sings lead on “Back in the Day.” Her upcoming solo release is one of several projects currently under construction by the Velvet Groove collective that they aim to release in 2018.
“Through the Velvet Groove platform, I’m really striving to push the idea of community. We’re trying to get all the musicians recording at the same time, vibing off of one another. People have become so socially compartmentalized these days that they don’t know how to communicate anymore. The positivity and good vibes we’re creating within the Velvet Groove community can be heard and felt in the music. It’s about giving back and being helpful. We’re trying to live the example we want people to embrace. We want our music to make people feel love, joy and happiness, using our musical gifts to inspire and uplift people to a better place, and to choose kindness rather than conflict,” said the hopeful Valentine.
A Washington, DC native who released his debut album, “Eric Valentine’s Jazz Impressions,” in 2003, the longtime Los Angeles-area resident has toured and recorded globally with smooth/contemporary jazz stalwarts Braun, Elliot, Peter White, Euge Groove and the Dave Koz Cruise as well as rock guitar giants Joe Satriani, Steve Lukather and Steve Vai on the G3 World Tour. An artist who had a significant impact on Valentine was late bassist Wayman Tisdale for whom Valentine wrote “‘Tis So Sweet” for “Velvet Groove.”
“The sounds and grooves on Wayman’s early recordings made me study and practice to his music, not knowing that I would go on to perform shows on a couple of tours with him. His melodies are always sing-able and his grooves are strong. He’s definitely still one of my musical influences.”
“Velvet Groove’s” lone reboot is a fresh take on Stevie Wonder’s “Joy Inside My Tears,” which includes members of Wonder’s horn section on the track. “I always thought it was one of Stevie’s underappreciated songs that never really got its due. We came up with a fresh arrangement for it, giving it a celebratory feel. To me, it’s a song about anyone you hold in high regard, someone who stood in the gap for you and really had your back through a difficult time.”
Eric Valentine & Velvet Groove’s “Velvet Groove” contains the following songs:
“Back to the Groove”
“E. Love (Everlasting Love)”
“Back in the Day”
“Velvet Groove Reprise”
“‘Tis So Sweet (for Wayman Tisdale)”
“Joy Inside My Tears”
“Joy Inside My Tears (Reprise)”
“Reflections (Back in the Day Reprise)”
For additional information, please visit www.VelvetGrooveMusic.com.