Brenda Russell - Between The Sun And The Moon


First time I got contact to Brenda Russell's music was her album "Paris Rain". This album was released in 2000 on Hidden Beach Records. I was deeply impressed by her ballads. To know more about an artist one should listen to his best of album. So I listened to her albums "Ultimate Collection" (2001) and "So Good So Right: The Best Of Brenda Russell" (2003/UK). I was surprised to hear so many popular songs which I could assign to well-known singers. For example "Dinner With Gershwin" reminded me at Donna Summer's great hit. "If Only For One Night" was  made famous by Luther Vandross. The wonderful ballade "Get her" which made Oletta Adams so popular. "Please Pardon Me" was a big hit for Chaka Khan. And don't forget "When I Give My Love To You" , the chart-runner with smooth jazz star Michael Franks. Brenda sings Pop, R&B, Soul and in many other genres. 

Current projects are the Broadway production "The Color Purple", which will start in 2005, her co-project with Stevie Wonder "Justice Of The Heart" for the movie "John Q" with Danzel Washington, her co-composition with Ivan Lins "She Walks This Earth" recorded by Sting for the album "Love Affair: The Music Of Ivan Lins".

Her new album "Between The Sun And The Moon" is a further step in her career. Newly signed to Dme Records she explores new directions and joined new contacts to European artists. A good example for this is Make You Smile. The song was produced by Jean-Paul Bluey Maunik. Don't await a typical "Incognito" tune. One can hear some brass in the background (Dominic Glover, Nichol Thompson and Ed Jones) but really decent. It's more a Bossa feeling which is accentuated by Bluey's acoustic "Brazilian" guitar.

Too Cool For The Room is settled in the R&B area with some strong hip-hop elements (drum programming). I especially like the background choir which Brenda created with some overdubbing effects. Victor Redwood-Sawyerr contributed a big part to this tune as a co-writer, producer, recorder and player of keyboards, bass and drum programming.

The Message has some oriental flavor. All instrumental music of the song was performed by RonKat Spearman. The song has an impressing hooking power. RonKat is a vocalist and bass player with George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic. He already worked together with a lot of great artists like Toni Braxton, Stephanie Mills, Michael Paulo, Grady Harrell, The Jets, Sheena Easton, Chante Moore, El Debarge, Chaka Khan, Prince, Lenny Kravitz and more.

The title song Between The Sun And The Moon is a cooperation with Patti Austin. The song has a great African influence and reminds me with his first part on the earlier works of Angelique Kidjo ("Aye"). On the second part the song shows up a strong Latin influence. Awesome the jazzy scatting of Patti Austin. 

Jochen van der Saag produced together with Brenda I Know You By Heart. Van der Saag is known by his work for the album Libertad by the group "La Rey". May be this production with Brenda Russell opens him new doors. The slow ballade has a modest atmosphere.

When You Comin' Back To Me was produced by Simon Law, Lee Hamblin and Brenda in London. Lee Hamblin has worked among others with Les Nubians and Arnold McCuller. He is also a great remixer ("Teardrops" by Womack & Womack). The keyboardist Simon "The Funky Ginger" Law played among others with The Chimes, Duran Duran, Ronny Jordan. He also wrote songs for Soul II Soul. Another great artist is Nathan East (Fourplay) playing the bass. Jazz elements were integrated by Gary Barnacle (flute and sax) and Graeme Flowers (trumpet and flugelhorn).

A further slow awesome ballade is Let Somebody Know which Brenda co-wrote with the vocalist Bunny Hull. Hull was already background singer on albums of Anita Baker, Oletta Adams, Michael Jackson, Jimmy Cliff, George Duke and Peabo Bryson among others. He also wrote for Angela Bofill, Patti Labelle, Stacy Lattisaw, Irene Cara, Jeff Lorber, KC. & The Sunshine Band and others.

The Tracks Of My Tears is featuring Lee Ritenour on bass and acoustic guitar who also arranged the song. This song was originally interpreted by the romantic balladeer Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. The song appeared on their album "Going to a Go-Go" (1965) and was covered by innumerous artists like The Jackson Five, Dean Martin, Areatha Franklin, Gladys Knight, Johnny Rivers, Linda Ronstadt and more. A song of timeless beauty.

Two special guitar heroes James Harrah and Michael James are playing on Different Eyes. James already played on Brenda's album "Paris Rain". He also played for Jewel, Madonna, Barry Manilow. Michael James played with Gary Shapman, Everette Harp and others. The song has a special country feeling obviously generated by the bottle-neck guitar and the organ sound.

Ain't No Smoke is the second production with Bluey for this album. The spherical sound is produced by English keyboardist Dominic "Ski" Oakenfull. He worked for Incognito ("Who Needs Love", "Life Stranger Than Friction"), Galliano, Gilles Peterson and others mainly from the British acid jazz (nu jazz) section.

You Know Our Day Will Come is evidently a wonderful R&B ballade. It was produced by the same team as When You Comin' Back To Me.

Finally some jazz with It's A Jazz Day. This song is a homage to all kind of jazz. Brenda sings about Metheny, Whalum, Thelonious, Yellowjackets, Sanborn, Bona, Sting, Mingus, Joni, Ella, Dizzy, Lins, Etta, Miles. Count Me In! Duke Me Out! She is accompanied by Joe Vanelli (rhodes and vibes), Jimmy Haslip (bass), Moyes Lucas (drums), Scott Mayo (sax) and Mark Ledford (trumpet).

If you like a sophisticated song album with deep and instrumental prowess Brenda Russell's new album will be your first choice. Unbeatable good.