Review (Jazz Neo Soul) “Where You Are” - Samuel Prather

This groundbreaking release by pianist and drummer Samuel Prather is going to definitely open the conversation among musicians about the use of synthesizers in acoustic music.  We’ve had this conversation before when Miles Davis recorded “In a Silent Way” and electronic instruments became accepted in jazz.  Now synthesizers are a ubiquitous presence in contemporary or pop jazz.  However, traditionalists still see “authentic” jazz as just the realm of acoustic instruments.  

Well, what happens when you use synthesizers to sound “like” acoustic instruments and actually get away with it?  That’s exactly what Samuel Prather has done with his new “Groove Orchestra” release.  Now don’t get confused because Sam does use acoustic instruments on the recording such as saxophone, trumpet and bass (only on one track).  As he let me know, “there are actually no live piano, drums, or percussion on the record at all; the only [synthesized] bass is on "Never Will I Marry". The other parts that are programmed are usually mixed in with real ones.”  He goes on to say, “I find the ear is usually fooled best when the programmed sound is "sandwiched" in with a real performance.”

What makes this recording so unique is that even to the trained ear you cannot tell which tracks have live or synthesized instruments on them.  Sam did such a phenomenal job laying the tracks, taking 8 hours in some cases to lay just a drum track. 

He is joined by some other innovative artists on his recording, Christie Dashiell and Micah Robinson on vocals, Kris Funn on bass, Elijah Balbed on tenor sax, and Clarence Ward III on trumpet.  All of them have their own personal sound that makes this a fresh new release that will enthrall you from beginning to end.  

You will definitely appreciate the hard work and artistry that it takes to create music like this so dig in and enjoy this recording entitled, “Where You Are.”


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