Gerald Veasley, recently named "Best Electric Bassist" in Jazziz magazine's annual readers' poll, delivers another winner with the release of Love Letters (HUCD 3052) on Heads Up International. The new enhanced CD, described by the artist as "urban progressive," should firmly establish the Philadelphia-born musician as an innovator who brings a contemporary voice to the bass as a lead instrument. This is Veasley's fifth project for the Seattle-based label.
Like his 1997 release Soul Control, Love Letters showcases Veasley's talents as musician, composer/arranger and producer in a melding of jazz, R&B, gospel, funk, rock and blues styles. Playing his distinctive six-string bass as well as keyboards, he's joined on the project by saxophonists Grover Washington, Jr. and Eric Marienthal, plus guitarist Chieli Minucci.
Veasley shares producing and arranging credits on Love Letters with Richard Waller III (who also plays or programs drums on several of the tracks). Seven of the album's ten songs were penned by the versatile bassist, including the easy-grooving title track and the disc's spacious and majestic opener, "Facing West." "Be Sweet" was co-written and recorded with saxophonist Chris Farr and keyboardist Bill Jolly, while Chieli Minucci's sultry "Hypnotize" and a funk-laden rendition of Donny Hathaway's "Valdez In the Country" round out the set.
Among the many other musicians heard on Love Letters are keyboardists Mark Knox and Michael Aharon, percussionist Leonard "Doc" Gibbs, and flutist Leslie Burrs.
Veasley garnered acclaim as a sideman to jazz and pop greats Grover Washington, Jr., Joe Zawinul, Dizzy Gillespie, McCoy Tyner and Larry Coryell, to name just a few, before launching his career as a solo artist in 1992. He has consistently captured the attention of music fans and music journalists worldwide, with Downbeat critics voting him "Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition" on numerous occasions and Downbeat readers naming him as one of their "electric bass favorites." While lauding his previous release Soul Control, as "one of the best R&B/soul-based contemporary jazz efforts to come along in quite some time," JazzTimes magazine noted, "(This) bassist/composer arranges with space, detail and purpose in mind -- and comes up with great results."