Reinventing the message

Marion Meadows’ unique jazz stylings at Gilly’s

By Tim Walker

Photo: Marion Meadows will perform Saturday, Feb. 20 at Gilly’s; photo: Dave Love

Jazz musician Marion Meadows is calling from Hawaii. I, on the other hand, am in Dayton, Ohio on a cold winter day, the temperature outside a balmy 21 degrees.

“Hawaii? I have to admit, Mr. Meadows,” I tell him. “I’m a little jealous.”

“Oh, I’m really enjoying it,” he laughs, rubbing it in. “We’re in Maui, and we’re up here in the mountains. It’s really a unique experience for people who come over here. It’s a little different than down in the normal, touristy, beachy areas, so it’s nice. Being up in the country, there are actual farms up here. My daughter actually grew up here, and it’s a whole different lifestyle. But we love it.”

Marion Meadows, leaving paradise to bring his cool jazz band to Gilly’s in even cooler downtown Dayton for two shows on Feb. 20, is only too happy to discuss his work, his band, his tour and his new album. The saxophonist and composer has a message he works to convey through his music, and it’s one worth hearing.

“It’s funny,” he says. “Because sometimes people don’t even realize that in the course of their day, that few minutes of music that comes into their space has so much meaning—people go through it without paying attention, and I don’t think they realize how important it’s been for our existence. The fact that we continue to hear that space—that there’s no ego there, there’s no agenda there, it’s all for that purpose of soothing the soul. And it’s been there for a long time.”

“I’m really looking forward to playing in Dayton,” he continues. “Actually, I have two young Ohio musicians who I just put in my band. They’ve been playing with me for a while, but I started a new show, and these two young guys are from the Cleveland area. So I’ll be bringing them back to Ohio, for the first time with me.”

Born in West Virginia, and raised in Stamford, Connecticut, Marion Meadows began playing clarinet and studying classical music at the age of 9. Later, Meadows attended Berklee College of Music, majoring in arranging and composition. He went on to study at the SUNY Purchase School for the Arts. His first album, For Lovers Only, was released in 1990, and he has gone on to release a total of 13 albums which have sold over a million copies. Meadows is, without question, a smooth jazz superstar, and one of the most popular and unique talents on the music scene today. His constant string of contemporary jazz radio hits and relentless touring schedule have garnered him a huge fan base, and his appearances with such artists as the Temptations, Michael Bolton and Will Downing serve as a testament to his broad appeal.

Soul Traveler, his most recent album, may be his most intimate and heartfelt release to date. The album takes the listener on a sensuous journey through a soundscape of brilliant original compositions and improvisations, and it was co-produced by Marion’s long-time collaborator Carlo Panisi. He also produced Marion’s album Whisper, which debuted at No. 1 on the Smooth Jazz charts and garnered three Top 10 Smooth Jazz Radio singles. Highlight tracks on Soul Traveler include the spirited “Celebration Road,” featuring the artist Najee on flute, the ballad “Dark Beauty” and “Real Time” featuring Vincent Ingala.

“Our show is supporting the Soul Traveler record,” he says, then pauses, choosing his words carefully. “This is an album that came out a few months ago, and it’s very musical in the sense that there’s a consciousness there, there’s a sub-lining to it—I have a single called “Humanity,” and we’re kind of promoting that whole thing, that our message is this: that music is trying to play its part in humanity, and that the music itself is a key component to the survival, I think, of the human race. Because without the music I think we’d probably be in even more chaos than we are in right now. That’s the message—the theme of the tour, and the new musicians are bringing a very fresh sound to it. For me, and I’m very excited about it, I hope the fans will come out and see for themselves. Because that’s what we do, we keep reinventing ourselves, we keep bringing the music to the people and hopefully we all meet there in that place where we always meet and have those experiences that we have. So that’s what it’s been all about—I continue to enjoy that part of what I do.”

Marion Meadows will perform two shows Saturday, Feb. 20 at Gilly’s, 132 S. Jefferson St. in Dayton. Show times are 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. Tickets are $25 and are available at Gilly’s, Omega Music and Huber Music and Video. For more information, please call 937.228.8414 or visit marionmeadows.com.


Tim Walker is 50 and a writer, DJ and local musician. He lives with his wife and their two children in Dayton, where he enjoys pizza, jazz and black t-shirts.

 

 

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Tim Walker is 51 and a writer, DJ, and local musician. He lives with his wife and their two children in Dayton, where he enjoys pizza, jazz, and black T-shirts. Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Walker at TimWalker@DaytonCityPaper.com

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