Brad Barker is JAZZ.FM91’s music director and hosts Afternoon Drive and First Listen.
When it was announced last week that the Kennedy Center will be recognizing Earth, Wind & Fire later this year, it was a reminder of the greatness of this band and its musicians. For 47 years, Philip Bailey has fronted that band (along with founder Maurice White, who passed in 2016) and has given the world one of the most distinctive falsetto voices in history.
The 68-year-old Bailey has also just released a very fine solo recording on Verve Records called Love Will Find a Way.
Born in Denver, Bailey’s ears were first opened to jazz by his parents’ record collection. He was especially drawn to drummers Philly Joe Jones and Art Blakey. Jazz was always a big part of the sound of Earth, Wind & Fire, Bailey has said.
For Love Will Find a Way, Bailey has enlisted some of the most talented contemporary jazz musicians to work alongside him: Grammy-winning keyboardist Robert Glasper, saxophonist Kamasi Washington, trumpeter Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, guitarist Lionel Loueke and drummer Kendrick Scott. Jazz veterans Chick Corea, Christian McBride and Steve Gadd are also part of the stacked lineup for this recording.
Love Will Find a Way was a self-funded project that was two years in the making. “Making my own albums has always been very important to me,” Bailey said in a recent interview. “It’s great when you get back what you originally hoped for when you were creating a project.”
The album itself has jazz more as its undertone than as its base; this is a soulful journey with Bailey’s original compositions, two Curtis Mayfield tunes and a very interesting version of the Talking Heads’ Once in a Lifetime.
Hear more new releases and reissues every week on First Listen.