Val Watson “Urbal”


Imagine the pairing of a multifaceted artist, a brilliant producer then you’ll have the marriage of vocalists Val Watson and producer musician Gerald McCauley (Beware: Val & Gerald has emerged into one of today’s most promising duos in the music business). Val Watson’s debut, entitled “Urbal” stretches the outer limits of the imagination for most debut projects. Val’s diligent efforts as a vocalist over the years positioned her to gather a virtual “who’s who” of the finest musicians into the studio to record one of the most intoxicating records of substance in the new millennium. “Urbal” wrapped with the armor of funk the 70’s, the groove is nestled in the hip pocket of organic soul with a taste of pronounced ghettoized sensibilities leaves no doubt about Val’s spirit and soul as an artist.  

The Players: Dorian Harewood ~ Body Drums, Scat Bass, Voice-Bone Solo; Phil Perry ~ Whistle & Voice Section; Eric Reed ~ Acoustic Piano; Greg Hutchinson ~ Drums; Ben Wolfe ~ Acoustic Bass; Mark Cargil ~ Violin * Viola; Chuck “Nasty” Mills ~ Guitar; Adwin Brown ~ Spoken Word; Rastine Calhoun ~ Flute; Kevin Ricard ~ “Boaty” Bellot ~ Rhythm Guitar; Ron Cox ~ Wah Guitar; Nils ~ Acoustic Guitar Strummin’; Sugarfoot ~ Guitar Fiddle; Michael White ~ Drums; Keith Rouster ~ Bass; Duane Benjamin ~ Trombone; Matt Frunkey ~ Trumpet;  George Clinton ~ Lead Vocals; Eddie “Killer” Miller ~ Keyboards; Charlie Peterson ~ Trumpet; Mal G ~ All Instruments and Programming on “That’s Funked Up”; Bootsy Collins ~ Lead Vocals & ad-libs, Talk-Box, Oui-Wey Rap; Michael Cooper ~ Background vocals & ad-libs; Davina ~ Vocals & programming on “Caught Up”;  Jane Eugene ~ additional Background Vox & ad-libs;  Patrice Rushen ~ Piano & Solo, Vocals on “Alright”;  George Duke ~ Fretless Bass Sample on “Flower”; Gerald Albright ~ Flute on “Flower”;  George Benson ~ Guitar & Scat on “In The Park”; Tollak Ollestad ~ Harmonica; John Barnes ~ Piano, Rhodes;  Jeanette Jurado ~ Background;  Howard Hewett ~ Lead Vocals; Jay King ~ Lead Vocals;  Keith Crouch ~ Synth Sound Programming; Marcus Johnson ~ Synth-Solo; Tonymo & Morris ~ Dialogue on “That’s Funked Up Urbalites Reprize”; Gerald McCauley ~ Keyboards, Producer;  and Val Watson ~ Lead & Background Vocals, Scat (As you can see the talent on this project says it all)! 

Val Watson is described as a “songbird” with distinct melody, edgy, jazzy, funky and simple with a twist of it all. She’s surpasses unique, wow! Speaking of diversity, “Urbal” supersedes variety and oozes confidence. 

V-Bop/Admad’s Blues” (The Legacy Suite) is the opener. It’s jazzy, catchy with lots of funky grooves. Ahmad Jamal, Phil Perry & producer Gerald McCauley wrote this tribute to the Legacy of great jazz singers, “OOO Bop” vocalesse that Val’s puttin’ down can only do one thing: Bring a smile to your face on the first listen. No doubt, this track “V-Bop” is one of my personal favorites.  

At the second spot the beautiful melody of “Butterfly Wings” appears. Featuring violinist Mark Cargill, the cut is described as a “A Classic Thang” – Prelude” is the perfect beginning to this Denise Williams signature song, “Black Butterfly” from the 70’s. Val adds her distinctive twist to this classic drawing the listener into her own voice. 

Pianist Joe Wolfe tickles the ivories introducing the “Poet’s Corner (Prelude) with the voice of Adwin interceding in the tone of poetic Floetry with a cut titled “Ain’t I A Woman”. As you see, the title speaks for itself.  

Pass The Vibe” drops in the next spot, dipping into a hypnotic groove that will have you boppin’ and swayin’ your head as you will possibly cop a sqat in a retro mood with nuttin’ but the funk (Val’s soprano vocal effects accent this and each song throughout “Urbal” superbly)! 

The next track, “High” (It’s My State of Mind) goes something like this “Hey-Yo-Wey-Yo-Wey-Oh”. Vocal foreplay is essential in the playground of funk! The interplay of the musicians along with Val’s soulful, yet playful vocals brings the spirit of the groove to the forefront of funk. 

Do What Come Funky”, says one thang: George Clinton & Bootsy Collins are on the set steppin’ into some serious funk. Now this jam is an addictive kind of funk with straight up in your face nasty grooves that takes you over the top right into cockpit of the “Mothership Connection”.   

At the 9th position is a cut titled “That’s Funked Up”, written & produced by Mal G. & Val Watson. Val arranged the vocals and performed character voices on the track.  

Another flashback from the 70’s archives in orbit called: “The Real  … (do-do) makes me think of (Roy Ayers) with a twist of Bootsy hangin’ out in the studio. This cut is raw, straight out wicked funk in the mix; this is the absolute real deal! 

Caught” written and produced by Davina and Gerald McCauley; these cats are doing it up for Ms. Watson. Val breaks it down with Nu Soul undertones while trying to stay out of reach of being “Caught” up in the game of love.  

Val adds her touch of ink to the paper with help from her friends Gerald McCauley & J. Eugene with apiece called “Whether U Know It”. Val requests the attention of her lover wanting to know “Whether U Know It” and how much she loves him. This slow jam could easily mesmerize the airwaves on any Quiet Storm show, (Urban Radio listen out for this sista, she hot)! 

Alright” is the next track up, Val gives us another dose of spicy vibes with the combination of wit and charm ultimately filled with the spirit of her soul. Veteran keyboardist Patrice Rushen jazzes up “Alright” not on keys but backing vocals as well. Ironically, this track appears to draw from the signature sound of.  

Val keeps the groove intact with an infectious tribute too “EWF” titled “Earth, Wind & Fire”, originally recorded on their “Spirit” album. This mid-tempo, yet relentless groove has just the right hooks with attitude to keep your head boppin’ and feet stompin’ with vibrant sentiments from the past! 

Flower”, another self-penned slow jam by Val falls in at the 15th spot; with an arrangement by Gerald McCauley somehow manages to add the proper ingredients to each selection that he arranges and produces on “Urbal”. 

 George Benson lends his scat and guitar stylings too “In The Park” (Interlude). Val gives you the lowdown with her script for what she loves to do while she’s kickin’ it “In The Park kickin’ back on the grass til after dark listening too George Benson hugged up and trying to keep warm” oh yeah! 

As each track progresses throughout “Urbal” the warmth, of Val’s voice continues to maintain the quality that only talent of her magnitude can produce. There’s something magical about “Days Like This”, why? Stevie Wonder co-wrote this track with Val & Gerald also offering their creative touch featuring the talents of Tollak Ollestad on harmonica.  

I Wanna Change The World”, speaks with spiritual overtones in terms of changing yourself before you can change anyone or anything else, live life and give love. “I Wanna Change The World” features the voice of brother Howard Hewett, plants his footprint of vocal harmonies perfectly in place. And of course, Val’s superb vocal treatment puts everything into perspective! Co-Producer Joe Wolfe adds color and textures with his keyboard and arrangement! 

At the 19th position comes another “Urbalities Reprise” (That’s Funked Up) with Val doing her thang servin’ up the tasty vocal flavorings along with Tonymo & Morris bringing on the smiles of joy! 

Val concludes this charismatic 20 song musical journey with a tribute to the “V-Boppers & FingerPoppers”, all the players and writers and producers that made this project possible featuring the one and only Marcus Johnson on Piano fills and Synth solos.  

Urbal” is a fascinating expedition of musical diversity by vocalist Val Watson. The quality of musicianship is incredible to say the least. Ms Watson displays her phenomenal talents as a vocalists and songwriter. Producer Gerald McCauley brings Val’s dream recording to life by delivering conceptually a once in a lifetime recording, a record that defies description. For those of you that are seeking music that’s off the hook and profoundly diverse in it’s direction then don’t miss this opportunity to discovered “Urbal” by Val Watson.  

Highly Recommended for the serious partygoers and funksters!