Guitarist/vocalist Steve Oliver and pianist Brian Simpson are two of the biggest names in contemporary jazz. They join forces on a brand new album, Unified, which captures their joyous interplay via a set of eleven moving originals – a couple of which lean towards their affinity for EDM. They are supported on the record by bassist Alex Al, drummer Eric Valentine and percussionist Ramon Yslas on many of the tracks.
While the LP will officially be released on January 17 via Shanachie, you can listen to an exclusive album stream ahead of this date via the player below. We also reached out to Oliver to tell us a little bit about each one of the tracks of Unified, to find out more about the music and some of the behind-the-scenes work that went into the making of the album.
This is the first single off the album. Brian and I wanted to have all the songs we wrote to be a nice interplay between the piano and the guitar. If Brian is playing the verse melody on piano then I will play the chorus melody on guitar and some vocal sounds.
“The Road Never Ends”
For this song, Brian and I worked a lot on the arrangement, with many key changes to set the mood. I started this piece as a solo guitar tune and it is one of my favorites on the album.
“What the Wind Knows”
Brian and I both like electronic chill music and we wanted to add that element into each song on the album along with acoustic instrumentation. I love the combination of a great groove with electronic and acoustic sounds. I also added my wordless singing vocals to the track that features Alex Al on bass. This track is another favorite.
This is a funky party groove featuring Rick Braun on trumpet, a dear friend on bass Larry Antonino, Eric Valentine on drums and Ramon Yslas on percussion.
This composition has a great melody and vibe. I wrote the chorus on guitar and Brian came up with a superb verse melody on the piano, along with the electronics and sounds design, which he loves doing.
“Like No Other”
A goal of ours was to have each song highlight memorable melodies that you can sing to. Brian plays a very cool synth melody at the intro while I play electric synth guitar on the track.
“The Way Home”
This song has a wonderful island feel to it. Brian played these wonderful marimba parts and I added my wordless singing at the beginning of the song. The tune also features Eric Valentine on drums and Ramon Yslas on percussion.
This is a really fun tune to listen to and play. The melodies and vibe are great.
“Cafe du Monde”
I wanted to feature my electric guitar work on the melody. Brian came up with these amazing chord changes in the middle section of the song. Very nice!!
“A Distant Love”
I had a lot of fun playing the guitar parts on this song and singing. I play steel acoustic and electric guitar on this track, and Brian added a synth melody to his piano part that creates another dimension to the song.
“And Then You Loved Me”
This was the last song that we wrote together for the album and we recorded it live in the studio in one take. Alex Al is featured on the acoustic bass. This is a perfect piece to end the album with.
Featured photo courtesy of Shanachie Entertainment.
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