Richard Elliot: Summer Madness (Behind the Scenes)
When tenor saxophonist Richard Elliot began preparing Summer Madness, his follow-up to 2014’s critically acclaimed Lip Service, he knew exactly what he wanted to do. First and foremost, it had to be funky. “When I was growing up in the ’70s and first learning to play the saxophone,” he says, “I was mostly attracted to instrumentally based R&B and to jazz that had R&B roots. This record definitely goes down that path, leaning more on the funk side.”
He also knew precisely who he wanted to accompany him on the new music. “I wanted to involve my band,” Elliot says. “A lot of artists tour with a group of musicians, and then when it’s time to make a record they hook up with a producer and go into the studio and use completely different people that maybe they’ve never even met before. I feel that if you’re lucky enough to have a regular group of musicians that you work with, and you don’t draw on their talent and their inspirations, you’re short-changing yourself.”
Summer Madness, set for release on September 9, 2016 via Heads Up, a division of Concord Music Group, is a new kind of Richard Elliot recording. For one thing, the cast includes two other horn men augmenting Elliot’s signature sax work: trumpeter/trombonist Rick Braun, who also produced the album and, on several tracks, baritone saxophonist Curt Waylee. Most importantly though, the music was created from scratch as Elliot and his handpicked musicians formulated and honed their ideas in the studio, with Braun’s ultra-capable guidance. For Elliot, recruiting the additional players and having the entire band—plus a well-respected veteran producer help him shape the music—was integral to the project’s success.