Singer/Songwriter Tony Hightower is taking up the mantle to be a bridge that ushers R&B audiences into Jazz…Real Jazz. With years of experience as a musical performer and actor with familial roots that place him firmly within the music’s firmament, Atlanta-native Hightower is still just getting started on this benevolent turn in his journey. And he is bringing a lot of young people with him.
His sophomore project, LEGACY, finds Hightower exploring Jazz vocal stylings from a dazzling prism of angles. The 10- song album moves confidently and assuredly from original compositions such as the soulful scat-laced “All to the Good,” the seductive Brazilian bossa nova of “Rendezvous” and the tender carnal Jarreau-esque love beg “I Need You” to swingin’ covers of Earth, Wind & Fire’s classic Skip Scarborough-penned “Can’t Hide Love,” a mean shuffle boogie groove through Al Green’s “Love and Happiness” and a smoldering upright bass accompanied tiptoe through the 1929 Andy Razaf standard “Gee, Baby, Ain’t I Good To You” made further famous in 1944 by one of Hightower’s greatest and earliest Jazz vocal heroes, Nat “King” Cole. That one’ll make the women wiggle.
“I didn’t have a choice about doing this music,” Hightower confesses. “My mother, Theresa Hightower, lived her life onstage. She was a fiery and versatile vocal pro by age 16 and had me when she was 19. So, you could say I’ve been performing since the womb.” And though he did not know his father, Ralph Baker, well, the man’s DNA pulsed within his being as Hightower inherited the percussionist’s keen sense of fascinating rhythm, which led to Tony’s first pro gig at age 14 playing drums in the stage band for “The Dinah Washington Story” at the 14th Street Playhouse.