The release of Love’s Silhouette (HUCD 3071) by world-renowned combo Pieces of a Dream is the follow-up to their critically acclaimed 2001 Heads Up label debut, Acquainted With The Night, which celebrated their 25th anniversary in the music business. On the new album, the group’s co-founders – keyboardist James Lloyd and drummer Curtis Harmon – are supported by a cadre of first class musicians that includes saxophonists Eddie Baccus, Jr. and Joseph Vincelli, bassists David Dyson and Gerald Veasley, guitarist Todd Parsnow and vocalist Tracy Hamlin. A multichannel SACD release is planned for later this year.
Love’s Silhouette contains 14 tracks that swing and sing in the easy-flowing and genre-crossing style that has made Pieces of a Dream a staple in contemporary jazz. It also highlights the kinetic energy the group generates on stage. "We put out a lot of energy, so we wanted some tunes on the CD to reflect that." Lloyd says. "All of the keyboard and programming were done in my home studio. We played ‘live’ on the record, so it’s a hybrid album. It’s more uptempo, with more hard grooves, and there’s a bit of a Latin flavor on a couple of the cuts."
Harmon concurs with his long-time partner, "On this particular record I did a lot live playing. The writing is also different. In some aspects there’s more fusion, but this record is a lot funkier than the last one."
That funkiness is in full effect on Love’s Silhouette: from the urbane, mid-tempo numbers "Turning It Up," "Mission Possible" and "Savior Faire" to "Mystical Perception." The title track was composed by Lloyd and named by his wife. "I wrote it seven years ago," Lloyd says. "It was sitting around, collecting dust. I played it for my family one day and they said ‘you gotta redo it.’"
For the upbeat track "I Feel Like Singin',’" Harmon states, "We decided to write about our kind of love, which is music. It’s a universal song that everybody can relate to."
There’s also the gospel-tinged "Remembrance (9/11/01)," a plaintive and poetic elegy to that tragic day, and a sexy rendition of the classic jazz ballad "My Funny Valentine" – a standard sung by Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan and Carmen McRae. Pieces of a Dream has a tradition of putting their soulful spin on jazz and pop tunes like Earth, Wind & Fire’s "All About Love," Herbie Hancock’s "Tell Me a Bedtime Story" and Johnny Mandel’s "The Shadow of Your Smile." On "My Funny Valentine" Tracy Hamlin’s vocals float over the spacious arrangement and in-the-pocket rimshots. "I didn't follow the normal chord structure," Lloyd comments, "and I added some reharmonizations and made it a little more groove-oriented." For Harmon, the remake was "sort of like a Chaka Khan version, but with our own flavor."
The sonic seasonings that comprise Pieces of a Dream’s "flavor" are diverse. "We import a lot of different styles, from R&B to jazz," Harmon notes. "The versatility is there, so we can please a wider audience." For both co-founders, the diversity of influences accounts for their individuality and longevity. "I’m influenced by (drummers) Steve Gadd, Peter Erskine, Dave Weckl, Alphonse Mouzon and Dennis Chambers," Harmon proudly notes. Lloyd’s piano heroes are equally broad. "I’ve listened to a lot of Ramsey Lewis, George Duke, Herbie Hancock, Joe Sample, Russell Ferrante of the Yellowjackets, Bud Powell and John Lewis of the Modern Jazz Quartet."
Love’s Silhouette is the latest aural example of Pieces of a Dream’s unbelievable staying power. As James Lloyd explains it, "we roll with the punches. We try to stay with the current times. Contemporary jazz has come a long way from back in the day when our first few albums came out. We try to be like Miles…we roll with the times, from bebop to today."