I have been following African-American trumpet player Bill McGee (my friend) for many years, and this year this veteran celebrates his 50+ years in the music business.

Although he himself says that he only feels 18 when he is in the studio. Bill began his recording career with the HBCU band from Atlanta (Hellaphenalia), which signed with Ray Charles' Tangerine Records in 1970, later changing to (Brick) Bang Records.

Bill moved back to Virginia where he was the leader of Virginia State University's HBCU band (Trussel). Trussel had the hit ‘Love Injection’ in 1979-80, after becoming the first touring band for Evelyn "Champagne" King. But Bill also played on the hip hop hits 'Apache' (Sugarhill Gang), 'Freedom’ (Grandmaster Flash), could be heard on recordings by Klymaxx, The O'Jays, Lou Rawls etc.

He was also D'Angelo's mentor, the neo soul artist. In the early 2000s, he embarked on his solo career as a jazz, funk and soul artist. So this is his 5th solo album. It contains 11 tracks, on which he collaborated with no less than 65 musicians.

On the contemporary jazz opener 'Flight Time', which is dedicated to Donald Byrd & Larry Mizell, Bill was joined by saxophonist & flautist Najee, by pianist Kevin Toney (The Blackbyrds), by fellow trumpeter Tom Browne, by guitarist Freddie Fox (the man of Evelyn "Champagne" King, and by bassist Christian the Mesones. An all-star band!

'For Ramsey' is of course a tribute to the late Ramsey Lewis, with rising stars Will "Chan" Hall on piano and saxophonist Marvin Taylor, Jr. 'Funky Dolla Bill' sounds a bit funky, followed by 'GiGi', named after the name his 9 grandchildren give to his wife. This is one of Bill's favorite tracks here.

On 'Life Got in the Way' you can hear flautist Dave “Doc” Watson, and the ballad 'On and On' is sung by Kanika McKinzie and Reco Winn. 'Sho Is Funky', featuring renowned trombonist Fred Wesley (James Brown & The JB's), is sung by Robbie Cunningham and swings nice and funky The smooth jazz of 'Summers in Surry' is graced by the Italian guitarist Roberto Tola (another of my friends).

The beautiful, soulful title track is dedicated to Larry Dee and Shirley Jones, and is sung by pianist Jay Baxter. ‘We Shall Overcome’ obviously refers to the anthem of the civil rights movement. It's a swinging jazz tribute to the Richmond Va Chapter of SCLC. Bill closes with 'Zodiac Sign', swinging and danceable Afro-funk, accompanied by Plunky Branch, Corey El, Carltia Whitehead and Kia Bennett.

Bill has released his funkiest solo album, a testament to the changing times we live in. Recommended!




Flight Time

For Ramsey

Funky Dolla Bill


Life Got in the Way

On and on

Sho Is Funky

Summers in Surry

The Tree of Life

We Shall Overcome

Zodiac Sign

Bill McGee