Higher Calling by
– reviewed by Chris Mann
couldn’t tell Dwayne’s story as well as he tells it himself on
but I’ll just tell you that as a big fan of jazz flute, I
could not wait to hear his second solo CD “Higher Calling”
It’s clever to open the album with a song that everyone knows;
Bill Withers’ ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’. This funky instrumental
bears little resemblance to the original though. The chunky
bass forms the basis of a nice, tough groove and that groove
is a perfect foil for Dwayne’s breathy flute and Erykah Badu’s
‘Smooth’ is a deceptive title because the groove here is deep.
The drums are programmed but unusually I don’t mind because
Hubert Eaves IV on bass lays it down heavy and the flute
dances on this original composition.
I love the jazzy keyboards on the funky, chunky ‘The H-Factor’.
The background vocals, that irresistible funk and some
beautifully recorded flute make this a treat for folks like me
who lap up the music of Herbie Mann, Dave Valentin, Bobbi
Humphrey and other flute heroes.
Daryl Grone’s lovely nylon-string acoustic guitar sets the
tone for ‘Daughters’. The beat is sunny and lazy, punctuated
by some nice, crisp slap bass work and some neat timbales.
Come the summer, this track should be receiving some serious
Uh-oh, the funk is back on ‘Yeah’. Eaves drops more fat bass
and the drum/handclap programming is spot on. The staccato
melody on the flute is sweet, the balance is perfect and you
can’t lose! Is this a single? It needs to be a single!
If ‘Yeah’ is the radio tune, ‘Being with You’ is the club
tune. God, if I went out DJ’ing this would be on my set list
this weekend. Big, four-on-the-floor beat, sharp flute licks
oh and did I mention Kirk Whalum sits in on sax for that added
flavour. Co-writer Jeff Feinstein brings old-school jazz-funk
keys to the party. That’s a serious REWIND!
‘Chillin’’ has an insistent and heavy bassline and some nice
layered flute lines and reverb effects. That and the keyboards
lend a space-y feel to this moody dance track. Guitarist Matt
Marshak (I’m a fan) is on hand to add guitar and production
support. This is the kind of track that could and should end
up on one of the excellent Café del Mar or Bambuddha Grove
releases in time for summer. Exotic and groove-laden.
The title track is the epitome of contemporary/smooth jazz.
Melody is paramount, and the hooks are strong. This is a song
I could carry in my head all day. It feels like summer is
coming, it really does.
‘Keep It Right There’ is another instrumental that keeps the
head nodding with a lazy rhythm while layers of flute and some
funky wah-wah guitar keep the smile firmly fixed on your face.
The chorus section has a lovely chord change and I think this
one song that will grow on me even more – though I ‘get’ it
The ‘unplugged’ version of ‘Daughters’ relies solely on Daryl
Grone’s acoustic guitar and Carmeasha Williams’ background
vocals to support the plaintive cry of Dwayne’s flute. The
recording acoustic is lovely and this sounds very live. If he
performs this during his shows, Dwayne must be able to see
people getting shivers everywhere.
Who doesn’t love Herbie Hancock’s ‘Chameleon’? Well, the
funk’s intact on this solo flute version in a ‘beatbox style’.
This surely must find its way into live shows – it’s already
found its way onto my internet radio playlist. Astonishing and
a sign of a player who’s coming out and taking risks.
Coming from Erykah Badu’s band, Dwayne clearly knows what’s
it’s like to be surrounded by top players and producers –
because that’s what he has put together here. The compositions
(mostly originals) shine and this combination of strong
material and a great choice of collaborators make me very keen
to hear the next solo outing from this new flute hero.
8689 Producers – Dwayne Kerr, RC Williams