Eric Frazier: Find Yourself (Then Find Me)
Find Yourself (Then Find Me)
Eric Frazier Productions
New Yorker Eric Frazier adds a swing to his step with his latest release, Find Yourself (Then Find Me). Eric was born in Harlem and raised in Brooklyn in a family of eight children. He was educated in the famed Boys School in Brooklyn and went on to receive his Bachelor of Arts at Southern Illinois University, two Masters and a Doctoral ABD at Columbia University Teachers College in New York City. He ran track and road races for 27 years.
His love of physical culture and creative expression led him to the study of the conga drum, djembe drum and African dance. Frazier's interest in music, dance, theater and writing are evident in his background. Otis Gould, former Chi-lites drummer and college friend, taught him to play congas. He learned djembe drum and African dance from Ibrahim, a master teacher from the Dance Company of Senegal, and was inspired by his brother, Gary Ellis Frazier, a former Alvin Ailey dancer. Frazier has performed with such dance groups as Katherine Dunham, Olatunji, Charles Moore, the International African Ballet and his own company, the Alafia Drummers and Dancers.
With two previous releases under his belt, Frazier takes a Grand Jete in the direction of danceable R&B jazz with elements of smooth jazz. He touts in his biography and promotional information that he uses swing dancers in his shows and that in the past it was not uncommon to have thousands attend big band swing events. With these elements in mind, he composed Find Yourself. The album begins with "Walk the Walk," a strolling F-minor groove. The pentatonic melody is orchestrated with repetitious unison horn lines driven by a heavy funk backbeat. The alto sax and piano solos give a jazzy treatment to the funk mix.
The album continues on with a vibe reminiscent of '70s James Brown, mixed with some jazz overtones. We then stop at "Bueno Gente" (good people) a Latin jazz journey with a taste of salsa. Flautist Karen Joseph adds the perfect edge to make the song take flight. We then take a journey to the title track "Find Yourself (Then Find Me)," a C-minor groove with a pentatonic melody featuring Eric Frazier on vocals, supported by backing vocalist's Denise Du'Main and Veronica White. The lyrics of the title track portray a positive message with an interesting rap section. Also adding warm tones and strong lines to the track is trumpeter Jeremy Pelt.
Frazier's main role on this CD is that of composer and arranger. As a player he adds complimentary conga patterns to each composition. His compositions are upbeat, catchy and very danceable. However, many of the compositions have similar harmonic and rhythmic approaches and a large portion of the songs begin with a drum pickup. Many composers have a tendency when showcasing their works to sing their own compositions. My problem with this approach is that any given city is filled with numerous skilled vocalists and Frazier's message and compositional flow could have been more effective with a professional vocalist. Frazier's release is best suited for a jazz listener who prefers the backbeat.
Tracks: Walk the Walk, Talking Silly, The Sun Will Shine Again, Eagle Eyes, Bueno Gente, If I Didn't Know, Don't Get Too Close, It's All Love, Nobody Knows Me, Find Yourself, The One For Me.
Personnel: Eric Frazier, vocals, congas, percussion; Danny Mixon, piano (1-2, 8-11); David Lee Jones, alto sax (1 -4, 6, 8-11); Jeremy Pelt, trumpet (1, 3, 6, 8-11); Wayne Escofery, tenor sax (1-2, 4-5, 8-10); Wayne Jeffery, guitar (1-2, 4, 8, 11); Todd Isler, drums (1-6, 8-11); Eric Lemon, bass (1, 3-6, 8-11); Sabor, percussion (1-4, 8-9, 11); Enos Payne, piano (2, 6); Ulyesse Corbett, trombone (2-6, 9); Ted Cruz, piano (4-5); Karen Joseph, flute (5); Theo Donnelly, vocals (6); Reggie Workman, bass (6-7); Anthony Wonsey, piano (7); Marguerite Mariama, vocals (7); Alvin Flythe, tenor sax (7); Denise De'Maine, vocals (8, 10); Veronica White, vocals (8, 10).