Surviving and succeeding in the tenuous and challenging world of contemporary jazz these days is no easy task, and there’s always an inherent pressure on artists to stay one step ahead of the trends. Songwriter, producer and keyboardist Philippe Saisse has thrived in this sink or swim environment by taking the kinds of creative risks that have kept him at the forefront over his illustrious 20 year career. In 2006, he hit the mark again with his The Body And Soul Sessions, his critically acclaimed #1 Billboard album of pop cover songs on Rendezvous Music. He particularly captured the imagination of contemporary jazz fans everywhere with his compelling piano and Fender Rhodes driven version of Steely Dan’s “Do It Again.”
One of the most ubiquitous airplay hits of the year, the song featuring the French born keyboardist’s longtime trio of bassist David Finck and drummer Scooter Warner spent six weeks at #1 on the Radio & Records airplay chart and #1 for five consecutive weeks at www.smoothjazz.com, 20 weeks in R&R’s Top Ten and was the #6 most played track in the format for the year. Rather than stick to the vibe that broke him through to the mainstream, on his Koch Records debut the multi-talented artist breaks genre barriers and finds renewed joy and creativity At World’s Edge��"a powerfully eclectic themed album inspired by his recent move to Los Angeles after living several decades in NYC.
Finding a new lease on his musical life in California, Saisse became a bona fide part of city’s thriving scene the minute he hit town, working with urban jazz greats Peter White, Rick Braun and Richard Elliot. He wrote and co-produced “Que Paso” on the #1 Braun-Elliot album RnR, quickly hit the road with Elliot and began collaborating on his and Braun’s latest solo projects. Eager to do his first album of originals since the 2004 Japanese release Ready To Go, Saisse reconnected with a batch of famed musicians from all over the world that he had collaborated with in the years between his first solo album (1988’s Valerian) and before forming his acoustic trio with Finck and Warner in the early 2000s.
These include drummer Simon Philips, whom Saisse has known since the two toured with guitar legend Al Di Meola in the 80s, and bassist Pino Palladino, who played fretless on the keyboardist’s 1995 Verve date Masques, which was #1 for three weeks. Saisse also works on At World Edge with trumpeter Jeff Beal; NYC based trombone great Michael Davis; longtime smooth jazz compadres, guitarists Jeff Golub and Marc Antoine and saxman Kirk Whalum; percussionist Lenny Castro; and Beninese vocalist Angelique Kidjo, winner of the 2008 Best Contemporary World Music Album Grammy (for jin Djin) who co-wrote and performed on Saisse’s 1999 African flavored world beat/electronic dance hit “La Vie.” Kidjo and Saisse pick up where they left off on one of At World’s Edge’s most explosive tracks, the wild, hypnotic world jam “Assante Sana,” which also features acoustic guitarist and oud player Annas Allaf.