Artist: Jonathan Butler
Title Of Album: Jonathan
Year Of Release: 2005
Genre: Crossover Jazz, Smooth Jazz, Jazz-Pop
Quality: APE (Img,cue,log) | MP3
Bitrate: lossless & 320kbps
Total Time: 45:10 min
Total Size: 304 mb/110 mb (+5% rec.)
2. Mandela Bay
3. 10 Degrees South
4. Randys Song
5. Fire and Rain
6. Precious Things
7. Sweet Island Love
8. Baby Love
9. For a Friend
10. Spirit of Our Nation
11. Move Me
Antonio Sol (Background Vocals)
Dave Koz (Saxophone)
Gerald Albright (Saxophone)
Gregory Wachter (Keyboards)
Jody Butler (Background Vocals)
Jonny Lang (Electric Guitar)
Kurt Lykes (Background Vocals)
Rick Braun (Trumpet)
For close to two decades, the vibrant South African singer/songwriter Jonathan Butler has become so well known for his impassioned vocals that it's easy to take his formidable guitar talents for granted. Most of his recordings include a few light acoustic guitar instrumentals amid a gathering of more memorable vocals, but on the Jonathan collection — his debut for Rendezvous, an indie label co-owned by saxman Dave Koz — Butler reverses the trend, to pleasing effect. It's hardly surprising that, despite the likeable instrumentals, smooth jazz radio gravitated first to his robust cover of James Taylor's "Fire and Rain," one of two songs featuring lead vocals. But fans eager to see his melodic, romantic acoustic guitar side will be pleased with the memorable pieces that dominate the set — which compare favorably to the kind of smooth jazz tunes popularized by guitarist Peter White. Most of these are of a festive nature, from the coolly exotic opener, "Rio," to the joyful, bouncy ode to his homeland, which rings very authentic to his optimistic indigenous spirit. "Spirit of Our Nation," featuring daughter Jodie Butler on backing vocals, perhaps most beautifully blends Butler's spiritual and smooth sides. This disc won't make fans forget that he's a great vocalist, first and foremost, but it's good to see him try some new things that listeners can have fun with.
Jonathan Butler Biography
Amidst a new album bursting with hope, joy, romance and inspiration, including eleven songs penned or co-penned by the artist, it’s the Johnny Nash cover “I Can See Clearly Now” that Jonathan Butler elected to record on the So Strong album, his 15th solo collection, that speaks volumes about his outlook after a tumultuous year wrought with immense personal loss, pain and suffering. Butler’s tenacious, indomitable spirit and effervescent view of silver-lined clouds infuses his music like a heaven-sent harbinger of healing.
“Music is spiritual and it heals. It soothes the heart and mind,” states Butler, who was born in Cape Town, South Africa. In the past year, his mother passed away, he lost one of his closest friends (Wayman Tisdale), and he supported his wife (Barenese) in her battle against cancer. “Sometimes it’s better not to tell people what you’re going through (while you’re going through it), but tell them after you’ve come through.”
Thus So Strong was born. For the singer-guitarist-songwriter-producer known for achieving chart-topping success, Grammy nominations and other accolades for his R&B, contemporary jazz, adult pop and gospel recordings, it’s his first urban record in quite some time. Rather than wallow in despair, as per usual the album finds Butler celebrating life and serving as a brilliant beacon of divine light.
“You can’t keep your head down all the time. You have to celebrate. With all that’s presently going on in the world, I felt the need to give something to the fans, to offer hope. I had to get to that fun place again. The album is a departure; it’s optimistic and positive. It’s get up-and-dance, and feel good. It’s all about just letting go. It’s about fun with flavor and a lot of feeling. I call it the three Fs: fun, flavor and feeling,” Butler chuckles. “I come from the urban world and this home-brewed album showcases my freedom to do what comes naturally (to me). It’s easy to listen to. The songs reflect my romantic side, my passionate side and my fun side.”
Butler, who produced and arranged the album, played most of the instruments, including guitars, bass and keyboards. He brought in a few noted horn men – Rick Braun, Dave Koz and Michael Lington – to add heat and drummer Gordon Campbell to lay down beats to a number of tracks. Butler’s daughters Randy and Jodie sing background vocals.
Opening with a high-energy, syncopated disco beat the vocal cut “So Strong” is an unabashed throwback textured with vibrant strings and jazzy electric guitar riffs. It’s the first Urban Adult Contemporary radio single.
In the spirit of a Bill Withers tune, “You’ve Got To Believe In Something” finds Butler crooning from the pulpit on this inspirational affirmation. Adding reassurance is a gospel choir on the chorus and a warmly enveloping horn section comprised of trumpeter Braun and saxophonist Lington. “This song came to me while reading scriptures. We’re often lost in our struggles, but you’ve got to keep going and think about the positive side,” conveys Butler.
Saxman Koz named and played on the instrumental “Make Room For Me,” the first single at smooth jazz radio. The percussion-filled Latin rhythm sets the stage for Butler to “solo like I’ve never soloed before” on an electric jazz guitar.