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Take Five With Paris Toon

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Meet Paris Toon:
The man behind the music is Paris Toon: producer, lyricist, composer and driving force of all that he engages in. Paris ritualistically defaults to his "gut" when the time comes to gather musicians and give birth to new songs. This is the method to his rarely observed madness. Since Mothers Favorite Child is a product of this method, it is only natural that its musicians and vocalists would be chosen to provide the soundtrack to the more deeply shaded thoughts of Paris Toon, the man. The music of the Paris Toon project revolves around the mother of all emotions, Love. As many individuals have experienced, love can fuel so many other emotions and sensations and it can also take many shapes, sometimes making it vulnerable to misinterpretation. Lust, mistrust, admiration, honesty, intensity . . . these are all stops along the way on this journey through a human soul. This is a true "Baptism by Fire."

Instrument(s):
Fender Rhodes, drums, bass, guitar,

Teachers and/or influences?
Miles Davis, Prince, Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway, Kenny Garrett, Sly and the Family Stone, Herbie Hancock's Headhunters, George Benson, Omar.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...
The first time I heard Herbie Hancock's Head Hunters, Sly Stone's Fresh and Prince, I knew that I had to write and become a musician.

Your sound and approach to music:
My sound and approach to music is totally organic and about truth. I only use real instruments and stay away from all digital sounds. I say music is about using instruments and musicians. I write lyrics based on what I am going through then get together with my Mothers Favorite Child and put the music together and record. I use Fender Rhodes, Wurlitzer electric pianos, Fender vintage basses and guitars, and anything that has a warm tone.

Your teaching approach:
I tell musicians and producers to learn their history and study with your ears. Don't just listen to technique but listen to the tone and feel. We have lost our way as musicians and I feel it begins with creating from the inspiration that first got us into music to begin with. Learn where your influences got their inspiration from.

Your dream band:
Kenny Garrett, Prince, Esperanza Spalding, George Benson, Fiona Apple, Maceo Parker, Fred Wesely, D'angelo, Jill Scott, Marcus Miller.

Road story: Your best or worst experience:
We were in House of Blues in Boston, getting ready to headline a show a few months after our CD release. It was sold out and for the first time I heard a whole audience singing my songs. It was everything I dreamed it would be. The hairs on the back of my neck rose up. That was the beginning of my success as a professional musician.

Favorite venue:
House of Blues all cities, SOB's in New York, Blue Note, BB Kings. We always get respect and love when we play and the sound is always killer.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why?
"Pop's Barbershop." It was dedicated to my dad, and the day I was recording it in the studio my dear friend George Benson came to surprise the band. It was a great moment because it was Father's Day, I wrote it for my dad, GB stopped in, and then we went to lunch. Not the best song in my discography but surely a great memory.

The first Jazz album I bought was:
Kind of Blue, by Miles Davis.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?
Truth, passion and intensity. There are many musicians, but not all play with honesty, love for music or true passion. I demand it from my engineers, producers, musicians and singers.

Did you know...
...that I cannot read or write music. I am also a single parent of four and raise my children, as well as having a successful music career and trying to inspire those that think the industry and music is too hard.

CDs you are listening to now:
Esperanza Spalding, Esperanza (Heads Up); Mothers Favorite Child, Mothers Favorite Child (Island/ Def Jam); Kenny Garrett, African Exchange Student (Atlantic / WEA).

Desert Island picks:
Prince—Sign of the Times—Warner Bros. Sly Stone, Fresh (Legacy);
Herbie Hancock, Headhunters (Sony);
Fiona Apple, Tidal (Sony);
Miles Davis, Kind of Blue (Columbia).

How would you describe the state of jazz today?
I think the state of jazz is a bit lame today. I believe that Smooth Jazz (thinly programmed, bad instrumental R&B) killed true spontaneous music which was once jazz. I think many musicians have hurt the jazz genre by creating so many subgenres because they are not gifted enough to stand out. I like the old school jazz philosophy and musicians who play and think like them. I hope to one day make a jazz record that true jazz musicians and jazz lovers will respect.

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