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All of the great singers possess certain distinctive qualities that cannot easily be replicated or denied. It could be a highly personalized style that makes them instantly recognizable, an unrivaled sense of interpretation and phrasing, an otherworldly sense of soul or an ability to employ subtle vocal nuances that take a song to new heights. Aretha and Stevie have it and Michael and Marvin did too. Singer Phil Perry, one of the greatest balladeers of our time, certainly fits the bill. Born in Springfield, Illinois and raised in East St. Louis, he settled in the Los Angeles area after moving there in 1979 to record two albums as a duo (Perry and Sanlin) for Capitol Records with writing partner, Kevin Sanlin. Later, Perry wrote songs for the late Noel Pointer, and three songs for Aretha Franklin, including her hit United Together.
As vocalist and composer Phil Perry’s flawless falsetto, velvety smooth pipes and keen musical sensibilities have made him one of the greatest voices in R&B. It is no wonder why Down Beat Magazine once dubbed Perry as “The Pavarotti of Jazz.” The Los Angeles Times raves, “Perry has tremendous range spotless falsetto, and his sheer enthusiasm…amazing pipes,” while Smooth Jazz Magazine declares that Phil’s voice, “consistently oozes that natural sweetness and sincerity that can only come from a singer of his high caliber.” Jazz Times Magazine captured the heart and soul of Phil Perry when they declared that he creates “joyous, romantic magic.” One of the most in-demand singers on the music scene, Perry remains busy and has a list of enviable credits, i.e., Josh Groban, Patti LaBelle, Dionne Warwick, Peabo Bryson, the late George Duke, Quincy Jones, Barbra Streisand, Dave Koz, Bobby Womack, and Rod Stewart. On January 20, 2015 Shanachie Entertainment will release Phil Perry’s eleventh album as a solo artist, and the sixth for the label, A Better Man.
“This album, for me, represents the opportunity to dig deeper into the needs of the people I belong to, and to take a look at the person I am and the person I want to be, and somehow bridge the gap between the two.”
A Better Man is a stellar collection of ten tracks featuring eight originals that prove Perry to be an equally gifted composer as he is a singer. Phil collaborates once again with master producer and pianist Chris “Big Dog” Davis (Kim Burrell, George Clinton, Maysa) who serves as the albums producer and who co-wrote all of the CD’s originals with Phil.
“Anytime I get to work with BIG DOG, I jump at the chance. He’s a genius musically so I never have any apprehension about where he’s going to take the music. As a producer and friend, he nurtures me into being both the song and the singer, at the same time. In the years we’ve worked together, the word that best describes our relationship is TRUST.”
The album’s opening number and title track finds Phil Perry confessing his love and devotion and making the promise to turn his ‘wrong into right.” About two minutes into the song he hits one of his signature show-stopping high notes that lets you know that the one-and-only Phil Perry is in the house and he means business! The dreamy “You’re The Only One” has all the makings of a classic wedding song and first dance favorite. ‘Big Dog’ strikes all the right chords and Perry delivers all the right lyrics and together they float on a groove that is sure to find its way into people’s hearts. Trumpeter Rick Braun joins Perry on the seductive “Feelin’ U,” and “Sorry I Let You Go” is an album highlight as Perry showcases his ability to drive a song home and bring every lyric to life with his crystal clear voice, impeccable diction and vocal wizardry. A Better Man also features the memorable and bluesy “Make It Rain,” which is the album’s first single. Also included on the album are two classic Curtis Mayfield reinventions.
“In my youth, Curtis Mayfield was a beacon of quality for me to want to reach. He’s a great singer, a socially aware composer, and one of the premier poets of the last century. He’s one of the artists that paved the way for me to enjoy opportunities that are now available to me. He created his own label and sound, and for a kid growing up in East St. Louis, he gave me a role model, and plenty to aspire to be!”
Perry’s stirring version of Mayfield’s “Gypsy Woman” creates a memorable and delightful moment on the album as he conjures up the beautiful imagery of his own “Gypsy Woman.” He also does justice to the Impressions hit “I’m So Proud,” which features the soulful and perfectly paired saxophone of Kim Waters. The original “Beautiful Girls” is a sweet number where Perry sings about the joy in his soul and stirring in his heart caused by the daughters that both he and Davis have raised as fathers.
‘Big Dog’s’ gospel inflected solo works perfectly on this hit-bound Quiet Storm number. Perry revisits his classic “Dreaming’s Out Of Season” and recaptures the same magic he created when he first recorded it with The Montclair’s. Just as you think things can’t get better Phil Perry shares the mic with Howard Hewett for the timeless “Stand Up.” The song is sure to be a crowd pleaser with its rousing and pulsating groove and inspirational message. Perry and Hewett croon “Stand up, time to get it right. Stand up stand up for your rights!” This dynamic duo’s call for more humanity and equality and is the perfect anthem that needs to be heard in today’s troubling times...