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
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)!
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.
Blues” (The Legacy Suite) is the opener. It’s jazzy, catchy
with lots of funky grooves. AhmadJamal, 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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
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
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.
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!
another self-penned slow jam by Val falls in at the 15th
spot; with an arrangement by Gerald McCauley somehowmanages
to add the proper ingredients to each selection that he arranges and
produces on “Urbal”.
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 Parkkickin’ back on the grass til
after dark listening too George Benson hugged up and trying to keep
warm” oh yeah!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
for the serious partygoers and funksters!