Pieces of a Dream
Pieces Of A Dream’s anticipated new recording, Fired Up!, delivers their trademark sound. The album showcases ten tracks featuring soulful grooves, energized solos and organic compositions. “After a collectively challenging year and a half, we hope Fired Up! brings new excitement and energy to our fans love of music,” says drummer Curtis Harmon.
“We want this album to be a reminder of the good things life has to offer both musically and personally.” Pianist James Lloyd reflects, “We wouldn’t be here without our fans. Our mission has always been to stay true to them and to dance a delicate balance between being progressive and holding onto our roots, while pushing the envelope and stretching our boundaries.”
Recording an album during Covid presented some obstacles but James and Curtis met the challenge. “This album was a bit more challenging, but because we were already accustomed to not having to be in the same room to record, it wasn’t too bad,” says James. Fired Up! opens with the exhilarating and jet-fueled “In Too Deep,” featuring saxophonist Tony Watson Jr. and trumpeter Parker Lewis. Curtis describes the song as “Pieces Of A Dream meets Tower Of Power!” He adds, “It gives you a Pieces groove with a popping Tower Of Power type horn section.” The old-school flow of "Ear Candy" serves just the right amount of sweetness to satisfy your ears with Lloyd's piano glissandos and bluesy phrasing along with Harmon’s rock-steady back beat. The tranquil lilting melodicism of “Smoothing Out” follows, featuring flutist Alexander Zonjic and “Livin’ The Life,” offers the perfect party anthem to uplift any occasion and is a special tribute to Pieces’ beloved Philadelphia. Harmon says, “I think that this track represents a Philly type of groove. This is one of those head-bobbing songs that grabs you when the bass line starts and keeps you grooving all the way through. Young saxophonist B.K. Jackson gives a great performance on this one.”
One of the most time-honored and treasured traditions in jazz is the mentorship that the elder statesmen and women provide to the younger generation of players. Luminaries like Art Blakey and Betty Carter utilized their bands as ‘Universities.” Pieces Of A Dream feels an obligation to carry on this tradition. When Lloyd and Harmon were teens, the iconic saxophonist Grover Washington Jr., took the duo under his wing and signed them to their first deal in 1981. Now the duo have come full circle and are mentoring the young multi-instrumental whiz kid Justin Lee Schultz. Lloyd shares, “We learned so much from Grover and we try to share those lessons wherever we can and as much as we can. Now, through Justin, we’re paying it forward.” Lloyd wrote and along with Harmon appears on Justin’s first single from his recording debut, Gruv Kid. The circle of life continues and Lloyd adds, “I feel things like this are what keeps Grover’s and Pieces’ legacy going.” Justin Lee Schultz is featured on the track “Just Do It!” and Harmon affirms, “There is a certain satisfaction that comes from connecting with young people. It revitalizes you and gives you even greater purpose. Although Justin is only 14 years old, his maturity is definitely on display as his solo kicks this song up a notch. We hope to keep people in the groove with this one!”
The album’s title track and first single “Fired Up,” is a rallying cry for people to focus on the present and to make the most of it. James Lloyd shares, “It’s a wake up call. This song is meant to be a sign that things are on their way to where we want it to be. There’s still a ways to go, but it can be done and we can get there! Let’s get fired up!” Pieces offer an antidote for your blues with “Feelin’ Good.” “This song will help you forget your worries and take you to a place of serenity,” explains Harmon adding, “Chris Harris’s acoustic and Latin flavored performance on the guitar along with Tony Watson Jr.’s sultry saxophone, almost transport you to a paradise island. It’s the calm after the storm!” Most people would think that Smooth Jazz and Trap music have nothing in common but think again! Lloyd says, “’It’s A Vibe’ is his attempt to find the synergy between Smooth Jazz and Trap Music. “I wanted to find that space where they coexist and bring their worlds to each other.” Now, how is that for exploration? Harmon says of the R&B inflected swinger “Gettin’’ Through It,” “This groove displays a smooth jazz feel with an R&B swagger. It’s one of those songs that we hope musicians as well as the general public will appreciate because of its unusual chord progressions. Plus, Chris Harris really brings the heat with his guitar solo.” Fired Up! concludes with the ethereal and arresting “Going Home,” a farewell tribute to Lloyd’s recently deceased Father-In-Law. He shares, that the song is ultimately a composition of “hope and healing.”
James Lloyd and Curtis Harmon have been the nucleus of Pieces Of A Dream since its inception and played together as kids and members of the Ada Lewis Middle School jazz ensemble along with former member, bassist Cedric Napoleon. Danny Harmon, Curtis’ father and a jazz musician himself, became their manager and had the guys listening to the Modern Jazz Quartet, Ahmad Jamal and Oscar Peterson, as they developed their unique sound, blending their jazz roots with R&B, soul and funk.
Taking their name from the Stanley Turrentine song “Pieces Of Dreams,” Pieces released three albums in quick succession, establishing their place in the world of Smooth Jazz: Pieces Of A Dream (1981), We Are One (1982) and Imagine This (1983). Those albums include some of their biggest early hits, including “Warm Weather,” “Mount Airy Groove” and “Fo Fi Fo.” Pieces Of A Dream recorded their Shanachie debut, In The Moment, in 2013, followed by 2015’s All In, 2017’s Just Funkin’ Around and On Another Note in 2019.
With the release of Fired Up!, Pieces Of A Dream is proving that they are still relevant, still swinging, still pushing and still searching to hold a sacred place in the hearts of their