Cliff Beach – You Showed Me The Way (ENG review)

California Soul Music - Street date March 15th 2024
Funky Jazz, Soul
Cliff Beach – You Showed Me The Way:


Sometimes we receive an album, we play it, and we start dancing. Is this normal, doctor? From my point of view, there’s no need to consult. This jazz/ funk/ soul album is like a fountain of youth. Raised in Washington, D.C., Cliff Beach grew up in a church. He says, “Almost all my relatives were pastors, except for my mother and me. I learned vocal harmony in church, singing in six-part a cappella groups and choirs. I also started studying piano at a young age and loved singing and playing for my family at home.” Beach continued to sing and play the piano throughout his schooling and eventually went to Berklee College of Music, where he studied voice and earned a BM in music management.
Like all great artists, this learning quickly turned into something else. Just listen to Cliff’s voice, and you’ll be convinced. As he is also a composer and arranger, deconstructing compositions to transform them into his own personal fireworks seems like child’s play for him. However, credit should be given to Cliff because the way he practices music is a complex art. Take the time to listen to the arrangements; at times, you might think you’re at an Earth, Wind & Fire concert, with incredible brass descents and breathtaking guitar riffs. Beach launched his professional career in 2003 when he moved to Los Angeles. He started playing small concerts, and as his popularity grew, he eventually played with a full band of 7 musicians and backup singers. He also knew how challenging it was to support his recording projects as a musician, which is why he went to Pepperdine University, where he earned an MBA degree specialized in marketing. He shares how he manages to work full-time while pursuing his recording projects in his book “Side Hustle & Flow.”
Cliff is a passionate artist, and it is worth noting that many albums have been released recently with the title “Round Midnight” by Thelonious Monk. Over the decades, this song has made its way from the 20th century to the 21st century. Only the most talented artists dare to tackle it, and fortunately, we have an incredible version of inventiveness here, showcasing Cliff Beach as a remarkable artist. He combines both respect for certain traditions and his own form of modernity, and that’s what we love about him.
Beach has released one album per year for the past 10 years. His first recording project in 2013, “Who the Funk is Cliff Beach?,” earned him several nominations at the L.A. Music Awards, including Record of the Year, Jazz Artist of the Year, and Urban Music Artist of the Year. Alpha Magazine stated, “Cliff Beach is a one-of-a-kind musician with a powerful voice and skillful fingers when he plays the keyboard. The songwriting skills he has developed are top-notch. What makes him unique is his soulful and funky musical style.”
The shadow of Ella is present on this album, “You Showed Me The Way.” In a sense, this album is a tribute to Ella. Cliff declares about Ella, “She inspired me so much, not only because she was an amazing improviser, but also because she delved into different types of music at the end of her career. She sang songs by The Beatles, Ray Charles, Jobim, and others.” These words should be carefully listened to because they hold profound meaning. Making covers is not about creating insipid and meticulous adaptations, which we often hear. You have to get into them, understand them, and bring your own vitality. Few artists are capable of doing that, yet whether it’s Ray Charles, Ella, or today Cliff Beach, all these wonderful artists have had or have, in Cliff’s case, this ability.
This is also the first album where Cliff doesn’t play the piano, leaving the keyboards to his main arranger, MUNENORI “Moon” KISHI, a young composer for television and cinema from Japan. Beach wanted musicians who could easily navigate between jazz, funk, and gospel, and he relied on his longtime friend and musical colleague, EVAN MACKEY, to be his musical director and lead trombonist. Mackey brought in RUBÉN SALINAS (baritone saxophone), SAM WILLIAMS (tenor saxophone), LUIS CÁRDENA-CASILLAS (trumpet), SATOSHI KIRISAWA (drums), ANDY MORESI (guitar), LEAH CONCIALDI (baritone and alto saxophone), and JOE FERRUZZO (trumpet).
Be patient, this album will only be available everywhere in mid-March, and it will be essential for all jazz, funk/soul lovers, and other fans of African American music artists.

Thierry De Clemensat
USA correspondent – Paris-Move and ABS magazine
Editor in chief Bayou Blue Radio, Bayou Blue News

PARIS-MOVE, February 2nd 2024


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