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SOURCE Pwop Studios
'Chain Reaction' more Steely Dan than Miles
NEW LONDON, Conn., Oct. 7, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- How many musically talented people do you know who set their dreams aside thinking after they've had some success they'll have the time and money to cultivate a new music career? How many of them have actually done it? Carl Franklin is one of those guys. His career has been in software development, authoring books and articles, speaking at conferences, and most recently, podcasting. All computer programming. Not music.
Franklin (46) recently released his first solo album, "Been a While" (September 1, 2013) which he recorded and produced himself in his own state-of-the-art studio, which he built himself. He plays all of the instruments (except horns) on two of the nine tracks. Oh yeah, you know John Scofield? The one who played with Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, Jaco Pastorius and countless other jazz legends? He's on the record, too. Turns out it's solid.
Franklin had been a Scofield fan for a long time, and was pleasantly surprised when he discovered they had a mutual friend. In 2011 just before he and his brother Jay released their second Franklin Brothers album, "Lifeboat to Nowhere," Carl asked his friend for an introduction to Scofield. He asked Sco to write the liner notes for "Lifeboat" but Scofield declined, citing his personal policy. Franklin was understanding. However, Scofield said he really liked the music and they kept in touch. "I'd occasionally send him new mixes of my solo stuff and he'd write back that he really liked it. I got the sense that he was sincere," Franklin recalls.
In March 2013 Franklin was about to release "Been a While" but felt it needed one more song, and he decided to ask Scofield to play on it. The song was an instrumental originally left off the album because it was too challenging for Franklin to play. "I wrote a song so damn fast I can't solo to it!," he laughs. Franklin approached Scofield that April at a concert in Montreal, and the next day over breakfast, Scofield agreed.
"Carl asked me to play on the record, just like anyone else would. I'm hire-able," Scofield told The Day (http://www.theday.com/article/20130921/ENT10/309219996) "At the same time, I don't do as many sideman dates anymore. But Carl's funk/jazz/pop stuff is interesting to me. He's really good, and the guys in his band are really good."
"Sco said he liked the instrumental, but he really wanted to play on something that I sing on, because he liked my voice," Franklin says. So they agreed that Franklin would write a new song for the session, and that was that.
The session was held in May at Franklin's studio in New London, CT. The song, "Chain Reaction," was tracked live with a standard lineup of musicians that play in Franklin Brothers and on the rest of the album, the only exception being that keyboardist and brother Jay Franklin only appeared on "Chain Reaction." Al LaPorte was the keyboardist for the rest of the album. Matt Covey's drums and Andrew Chaney's bass held down the groove. Carl played acoustic guitar. "Chain Reaction" is the only song on the album on which Carl didn't play electric guitar. "I wanted Sco to shine on electric. Who wouldn't?" he says.
"Chain Reaction," as well as some of the other cuts, sound like they might be from a lost Steely Dan album. The grooves are front and center. Each instrument takes its position in the mix. Tight vocal harmonies reminiscent of The Eagles (or maybe Atlanta Rhythm Section) are layered over the funk, adding a bit of chill. Scofield adds his signature licks and supporting comments, of course. The tune features a mid-song dream sequence where Scofield and trumpet virtuoso Doug Woolverton engage in a dramatic dialogue. Very nice. After the third verse, Scofield solos to the end of the tune. Pure bliss, and not at all what you'd expect, but it works.
Franklin isn't sure how he feels about the comparison to Steely Dan. "I've always loved Steely, so the influence can be heard, but I don't use as many jazz chords as those guys do. Still, it's a fair comparison, I guess," he says. Franklin's own voice is unique and recognizable throughout, but he's definitely a fan. "I really do love how [Donald] Fagan and [Walter] Becker craft a song, and how none of the voices step on each other. They take a lot of care in the mix. That's just good production sense, if you ask me."
So, after seven takes and quite a bit of editing, everyone was extremely pleased with "Chain Reaction," including Scofield. "I really dig the song and the album," Scofield says. "I never understood how someone like Carl has music as a hobby and this whole other life (working with computer technology). How did he get so good? His music is so beautiful. I spend all my time focused on music and can barely get by." (From The Day - http://www.theday.com/article/20130921/ENT10/309219996)
We hardly think John Scofield is "barely getting by," but Franklin takes the compliment with as much humility. "He's such a gentleman badass. I'm very grateful things worked out the way they did."
The rest of the album is just as groovy, with six Franklin originals, a funky cover of Lennon/McCartney's "Drive my Car," a slow-churn version of Louis Armstrong's "Big Butter and Egg Man," and a disturbingly up-beat gospel funk rendition of an old summer camp classic "The Titanic," which features the Franklin Brothers Horns. All are ear worms you'll want to listen to over and over.
"Been a While" is available at iTunes (international), Amazon MP3, and Nokia Music. You can order a signed copy of the CD at http://carlfranklin.com.
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