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Everette Harp

As the 90's progressed and smooth jazz artists began incorporating more hip-hop and classic R&B grooves into the music which came to define the genre, Everette Harp found himself ahead of the curve. Raised in church and weaned on gospel and soul music, the Houston born saxman on his first two Blue Note recordings, Everette Harp (1992) and Common Ground (1994), was already leaning this way, combining dynamic funk edges and urban textures into the mix. His popular 1997 tribute to Marvin Gaye's 1971 watershed album What's Going On combined the best of his two worlds, modern day contemporary jazz and the classic soul he grew up with. 1998's Better Days further solidified his place among the chart-toppers of smooth jazz. While on his previous albums, Harp sought to push the envelope stylistically and show off all of his abilities as writer, arranger, producer and player (even of straight ahead jazz), For the Love strips away the diversions and focuses purely on Harp's ability to convey powerful emotions via lyrical playing, beautiful melodies and sensuous rhythms.

While high ambition has always been Harp's trademark as an artist and performer, on For the Love, the saxman looked forward to the challenge of letting go of pretension, focusing on the love of song and above all, keeping things simple. "I've always looked upon each album as a learning experience, and for me that used to mean trying to fill each song with huge arrangements and every sonic idea that came to mind, scattering styles on the other songs once the radio tunes were recorded, and playing a lot of notes. But like George Duke has long told me, there is an art form to being simple and communicating honestly. The result, I believe is my most focused project to date."

Keeping with that sensibility, the album title For the Love is not simply a reflection of the very romantic vibe found in many of the collection's titles. Rather, it refers to his overall intention to play from the heart for the love of the music. "The title encompasses the whole feeling of the project and the personal place I'm in right now. There's less riffing, less eclecticism and more real feeling. I stepped back a bit and took a more laid back approach. That was a bit of a struggle at first, but I absolutely love the results."

To help him find that crucial balance, Harp brought in veteran producer Steve Dubin (George Benson, Al Jarreau, Richard Elliot) to co-write (with Harp) and produce six of the tracks — the bubbly retro-funk opener So Automatic, the soulful hip-hop flavored romance I Just Can't Let Go, the edgy, throbbing alto showcase Right Back Atcha (featuring Ricky Peterson's lively electric piano), the bluesy and atmospheric Love Conditionally, the snappy and percussive jam Dancin' With You (with Doc Powell's crisp electric guitar harmonies and solo) and Put It Where You Want It, a rollicking, brassy and blues-drenched cover of a Crusaders classic conceived as a duet between Harp and electric guitarist Jeff Cobb. "Steve knew my reputation as a guy who loved big and beautiful productions, and I knew he would bring a centered approach and a sensibility to the tunes which radio would respond to," says Harp. "His objective point of view added so much to the recording process."

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