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Anthony Jefferson "All I Am"

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    Posted: 01 Feb 2020 at 7:58pm

ANTHONY JEFFERSON's newest release, ALL I AM, is an eclectic project comprising music from the Great American Songbook, pop, R&B, and the movies, all beautifully rendered as romantic jazz tunes by Jefferson's silky, warm baritone voice and lush orchestral arrangements by multi-instrumentalist COREY ALLEN. The album features some of the finest musicians in Dominican Republic, where Jefferson has been living for the past 10 years. Jefferson's first project, But Beautiful, was released in 2013.
Jefferson's vocal style grew out of the confluence of his extensive musical training and his eclectic life experiences. Born and raised in New Orleans, his parents were very religious and sent him to Catholic school. His first experience performing before a live audience was at the age of five when he sang at a PTA Christmas show. The church was at the center of his family life. "I've never seen another Catholic church like that one," says Jefferson. "They loved music and had so much soul. I joined a vocal group at the church called The Spirit Movers. We wore traditional dashikis, and so many people came to hear us, there was standing room only on those Sundays when we performed."
Jefferson studied piano from the age of five to 13, and he went on to attend the high school that had the best band in New Orleans. He was always fascinated by Hollywood and the California lifestyle, so he headed to Los Angeles after graduating, hoping to become part of the entertainment industry. When Jefferson got to L.A., he wanted to continue his music education, so he enrolled in Los Angeles City College, where he took classes in musical theater as well as the standard academic coursework. To support himself, he also worked for UPS.
One day, a co-worker at UPS heard him sing and encouraged him to check out the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), the internationally renowned school for the arts that was created by Walt Disney. At his audition, the judges asked Jefferson why he wanted to go to school since his voice was already so well developed. But Jefferson was committed to his vocal studies, and the school showed its appreciation for his talents by awarding him a full scholarship. He began in the classical music department but soon transferred to the jazz department, where he excelled. After two years, a dean suggested that the next step for Jefferson's growth should be the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Berklee attracts some of the top talent in the country, and the high level of accomplishment of the other students pushed Jefferson to be his best. He loved the challenge and became a member of the school's concert choir. Jefferson completed his coursework after two years and flew back home to New Orleans when his mother passed.
Jefferson decided to stay in New Orleans, but he wasn't done with his studies. He enrolled in the University of New Orleans where he was mentored by Ellis Marsalis. Although he was in the Jazz Department, he was also invited to join the classical choir.
Jefferson is also an entrepreneur and opened a restaurant with his business partner. They hosted jazz jams at the restaurant, and Jefferson got in touch with Mark Rapp, the renowned trumpeter and UNO alumnus, to form a band. Rapp brought on board stellar New Orleans musicians like Charlie Dennard and Mark Di Florio. They performed in the restaurant, and these popular shows helped make the business a huge success. After several years of hard work, Jefferson decided it was time to take a long vacation. It was a decision that changed his life forever.
Jefferson and his partner bought a sailboat and sailed around the Caribbean. After lengthy stops on some of the islands, they landed in Dominican Republic and fell in love with the lifestyle and culture. He started studying piano again on his new baby grand and formed a band. He soon earned the moniker "The Jazz King of the North Coast."
That's when he met Allen, a prolific pianist, producer, arranger, and composer who has worked with a Who's Who of some of the biggest names on the U.S. jazz scene. Jefferson worked with Allen to record his first CD, But Beautiful, which featured Doug Webb and Mark Rapp. The album garnered rave reviews and created many performance opportunities for Jefferson around the U.S. and Dominican Republic.
After six years of performing, studying, and maturing as an artist, Jefferson decided it was time to release another CD project. All I AM features luxuriant string and horn arrangements by Allen that amplify Jefferson's innate warmth and soulfulness. Allen is also a department head at the Universidad Nacional Pedro Henriquez Ureņa in Santo Domingo, and the entire rhythm section on the CD comprises professors from the school.
Jefferson and his music handler of 11 years, Junior Severe, carefully selected the repertoire, choosing tunes from a diverse group of composers and styles, from George Benson and Carole King to Cole Porter and George Gershwin; from standards like "Willow Weep for Me" and "Night and Day" to pop tunes like "You've Got a Friend" and soul numbers like "Me and Mrs. Jones," and "Rainy Night in Georgia," to original songs like "In the Presence Of" composed by Mark Rapp with lyrics by Jefferson. Jefferson also sings a lovely duet with PATRICIA PEREYRA, an award-winning Dominican singer on "Besame Mucho," and a captivating duet with GUSTAVO A. HOSTOS on "You've Got a Friend."
Corey Allen is a top-notch arranger, and his charts for this project are sumptuous and romantic. He plays piano and keys on ALL I AM and once again enlisted trumpeter MARK RAPP for this project. Rapp has performed with a diverse range of artists, including Branford Marsalis and Roy Hargrove to country music star Darius Rucker. The rhythm section comprises excellent Dominican musicians FEDERICO MENDEZ on guitar, PENGBIAN SANG on bass, and GUY FROMETA on drums. The CD also features the COREY ALLEN STRINGS and THE COREY ALLEN HORNS, with the award-winning SANDY GABRIEL on alto sax.
Jefferson is already a bona fide star in Dominican Republic. All I AM is a superb showcase for an expatriate American singer who deserves to be much better known in the United States. Although he has been studying and performing for many years, with his pure voice, inventive and personal phrasing, and sensitive approach to lyrics, Anthony Jefferson's star has just begun to shine.

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