In the Lite of Things
Few jazz musicians have the combined R&B-jazz-blues experience of keyboardist Eddie Gip Noble who has played with dozens of top acts in these genres including Gladys Knight, Patti Austin, Gerald Albright, Wayne Henderson, Johnny "Guitar" Watson and Etta James. This illustrious multi-faceted background has led to the exciting hybrid sound Noble creates on his second solo album, In the Light of Things, by taking classic R&B and jazz-fusion elements from the Seventies and using them to create modern instrumental music that features extensive, melodic, traditional-jazz-style-soloing on acoustic and electric pianos. "That's the nature of artistic endeavors," Noble says. "You take what you love and know best, and create something new out of it. I specifically wanted this to be feel-good music that is melodic, light and buoyant, and easy-to-listen-to." To put this music in historical perspective, first go back to some of the Seventies sexy R&B artists such as Teddy Pendergrass and Barry White, and remember the soulful stylings of their bands, often with romantic string arrangements in the background. Then, from the same era, take the jazz-rock electric-piano sound as personified by Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea. Now have the solos reflect not only those electric-fusion-days, but also some of the acoustic-piano greats from the Fifties and Sixties (Oscar Peterson, Gene Harris, Ray Charles and Dave Brubeck). Top it off with modern melodic sensibilities developed from listening to a broad array of contemporary recordings. These are the diverse elements smoothly brought together by Eddie Gip Noble on his latest album. Often within a single song Noble will play a solo on acoustic piano followed by another solo on electric piano. Noble's two CDs, on Sonido Noble Records, can be purchased online at his website (eddiegipnoble.com), major web-stores such as amazon.com and cdbaby.com, and many digital download locations including iTunes, Rhapsody and eMusic. For the album In the Light of Things, Noble selected well-known, highly-charted hits (R&B, pop, rock, jazz and country) from the past five decades and turned them into instrumental smooth jazz. His wide-ranging song choices include selections seldom heard in smooth jazz. The material comes from many genres: rock (Bruce Springsteen's "Streets of Philadelphia"), British pop (The Beatles' "Blackbird," Peter Gabriel's "Red Rain," Sting's Desert Rose," Tears for Fears' "Shout"), R&B/pop (Michael Jackson's "This Girl is Mine," Vanessa Carlton's "1,000 Miles," Vanessa Williams' "Save the Best for Last"), jazz (Vince Guaraldi's "Linus and Lucy") and country (Charlie Rich's "Behind Closed Doors," George Strait's "Run"). Noble also performs an original ("Don't Want to Be Alone Tonight") co-written with Dee Dee McNeil (who has written for the Supremes, the Four Tops and Gladys Knight) and sung by Zuri (whose background includes Chaka Kahn, Brenton Woods, and Noble's first album). Another special guest on the album is electric guitarist Jim Henkin who adds a scorching solo on "Linus and Lucy." Gip is one of the few musicians today with such a wide-ranging history of playing with a huge list of top jazz, blues and R&B artists, which is why it is a natural transition to bring such a variety of styles into his own music. In addition to his role as ace sideman for many stars over several decades, Noble spread his influence even wider as a composer. He co-wrote the huge hit "Love T.K.O." for Teddy Pendergrass and also has had compositions recorded by Etta James, Brothers Johnson, Hall & Oates, Bette Midler, Regina Belle, The Nylons, Boz Scaggs, Johnny "Guitar" Watson, and Pamela Williams, among others. Noble's current music has another link to the classic sounds of Seventies soul: his co-producer David Williams, who also plays drums and adds drum-programming on the album, was formerly was the drummer with The O'Jays and Patti LaBelle. Noble has toured extensively playing in the bands of such R&B notables as Brothers Johnson (serving as musical director as well), Gladys Knight & The Pips, Patti Austin, Barry White, Shalamar, Mary Wells, the Marvelettes, Teena Marie, The Drifters, The Platters, Brenton Woods, Arpeggio, The Jones Girls, Mona Raye Campbell, Munyungo (Stevie Wonder, Patti LaBelle), Ricky Minor (Whitney Houston, Lionel Richie), Tisha Campbell (Lenny Kravitz), Gil Askey (Diana Ross, The Temptations) and others. Gip also has played with top blues artists including Johnny "Guitar" Watson (as his musical director), Etta James (as her musical director), Albert Collins and blues-rocker Joe Walsh. In the studio Noble has recorded with Watson, James, Randy Crawford, Noel Pointer, Wayne Henderson, David Oliver, Womack & Womack, Shalamar, Stacye Branche, Charles Brown, Amos Garrett and Hilliard Wilson. In addition, Noble has extensive credentials in the jazz field having performed with Gerald Albright, Plas Johnson (Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald), Rahmlee Michael Davis (Earth Wind & Fire, Ramsey Lewis), Larry Gales (Thelonious Monk, Herbie Mann), Henry "The Skipper" Franklin (Freddie Hubbard, Archie Shepp), Andy Simpkins (The Three Sounds, Sarah Vaughan), James Gadson (Herbie Hancock, Pharoah Sanders), Pamela Williams (Teddy Pendergrass, Patti LaBelle), Linda Hopkins (Jackie Wilson), Debra Laws (Dianne Reeves, Ronnie Laws), Ronald Muldrow (Eddie Harris, Maceo Parker), Hilliard Wilson (Dionne Warwick, Paul Taylor), Ernie Andrews (Harry James Orchestra, Gene Harris), and others. Noble has appeared in numerous films as an actor playing a musician - the Clint Eastwood-directed "Bird" (the Charlie Parker biography), "City Heat" with Eastwood and Burt Reynolds, "Animal House" in Chuck Berry's band, "Jo Jo Dancer" with Richard Pryor, "The Nutty Professor" with Eddie Murphy, "Against All Odds" with Jeff Bridges, "All of Me" with Steve Martin, "Inspector Gadget" and "What's Love Got To Do With It" (The Tina Turner Story). Gip also made appearances in television shows such as "Dallas," "Knot's Landing" and Julia Louis-Dreyfus's "12 Minutes of Fame" and "Watching Ellie." Born Gip Edward Noble, Jr. in Chicago, his earliest musical memory is his father playing piano frequently in their home. "My dad played a lot of jazz and standards, and began giving me lessons when I was four. I lived at the corner of 43rd and South Park, and right there was the 400 Liquor Store that played jazz loud all day long. I was too young to get into the clubs, but I remember standing outside one listening to Smokey Robinson sing." Gip's earliest influences were all the Motown pop-soul acts and the more bluesy Etta James, Ray Charles and Bobby Blue Bland. "My life changed when a friend gave me a record by The Three Sounds with Gene Harris on piano," Gip remembers. "Then my jazz piano instructor turned me on to Herbie Hancock which led me to a lot of other great jazz like Miles Davis, Wes Montgomery, Kenny Burrell and Wayne Shorter." Noble went into the Air Force and was stationed in Germany where he hung out with members of the post's military band and played in their experimental jazz group before starting his own jazz trio to perform in German clubs. Back in Chicago, Noble studied avant-garde jazz with Muhal Richard Abrams (Dexter Gordon, Max Roach), president of the influential Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. Gip moved to Los Angeles to further his musical pursuits and quickly became a sought-after accompanist for top R&B and blues acts. In his spare time, Noble put together jazz trios and quartets to play Southern California gigs doing material by Chick Corea, Dave Grusin, Noel Pointer, Earl Klugh, Lee Ritenour and other popular contemporary jazzsters. "I always tried to be innovative with my arrangements and add my own twist to them." Finally after many years of audiences requesting an Eddie Gip Noble recording, he released his first album, Love T.K.O., featuring smooth jazz performances of that famous tune as well as a half-dozen other original compositions and some classics such as "Trains & Boats & Planes." Now Noble is back with a second CD, In the Light of Things. "I could have done my own material on this album or tackled a dozen jazz standards," explains Gip, "but I wanted to do popular songs that have stood the test of time because I felt listeners would enjoy that the most. I wanted to show my audience what I can do with these great melodies, and offer them new arrangements they have never heard before."