Leighton's early influences, some of which included Tower of Power, Earth, Wind & Fire, The Brecker Brothers and Average White Band, are readily apparent in Soul Collective's tight, robust horn arrangements, which feature three acknowledged masters of the horn-based funk idiom in Greg Adams, Mic Gillette and Tom Scott.
Allan Phillips pens the first three tunes: It's On," Caf Con Leche" and Wake Up Call." The first is an up-tempo, funky groove featuring Tom Braxton trading energetic licks throughout with Leighton's alto flute. Cafe" is the single Latin offering on the CD. This smooth back-beat cha-cha features Evan Marks' guitar working in unison with Leighton's flute - punctuated by the horn section - with the two riding high over the horns in the out chorus. Wake Up Call" brings the horns to the forefront in a hard-driving funk tune reminiscent of those great horn bands of the 70's. She's Gone" is a classic Hall & Oats tune made popular by the 70's disco group Tavares, performed as a soulful duet by Leighton and Tom Scott; this artful Allan Phillips arrangement builds throughout up to its driving, horn-laden finale.
For a change of pace, That Man" is a popish vocal offering featuring newcomer Paula Prophet's wonderful writing and superb vocal stylings. Ode to Billy Jo" is an instrumental treatment of the Bobbi Gentry classic; one of the two tracks produced and arranged by Jason Miles, it features Leighton and his alto flute over a slinky, funky vibe. The next two Phillips originals offer a contrast in styles. Rock Me Softly" features the muted trumpet of Greg Adams with Leighton's hum-over-playing on the alto flute, giving the tune an edgy, urban vibe, while Undercover" is a mellow, jazzy selection with Adams, Marks and Leighton trading riffs throughout. Closing out the CD is another Jason Miles treatment - this time it's the classic Crusaders' hit Keep That Same Old Feeling." In a mellow, chillin' groove, Leighton trades melodic phrases with vocalist Katreese Barnes; providing a fitting climax to this superbly crafted CD.
It was really an honor working with some of my favorite players on this project," said Leighton when speaking about Soul Collective. I've always loved working with and playing in the horn section and we were fortunate enough to have three of the best in our section with Greg Adams, Mic Gillette and Tom Scott. This project was a lot of fun to make and I look forward to performing all the new material in concerts this year."
Beginning on March 31, a free download will be available for one week through MyJazzNetwork.com media player affiliate stations, WNUA, WJZZ, WVMV, and WSJT. WNWV, WLOQ, KIFM, WCIN, WJZX, KOAS, WSBZ, WKYL, KRVQ, WJZT as part of the Song of the Week program. This free download will be for the current single, It's On!" featuring Leighton along with Tom Braxton and Mic Gillette. Meanwhile, Leighton will start his tour in his home town of Tacoma, WA on March 8th as the headliner for the Old Town Tacoma Wine & Jazz Festival. The San Diego debuts will start March 23rd when Soul Collective will play at Humphrey's Back Stage Music Lounge then again on May 4th at Anthology for the official release party.
Leighton debuted in 2003 with Groove Yard, a beautiful collection of jazz standards. Released in 2005, Just Doin' Our Thang is comprised of inventive arrangements of standards and four original compositions in a traditional jazz setting that finds Leighton backed by a Hammond B3 organ trio. Just Doin' Our Thang and Back to the Funk both received critical praise from such respected outlets as JazzTimes, Audiophile, All About Jazz, All Music Guide, L.A. Jazz Scene, and The San Diego Reader in 2006. Both these albums were nominated for Best Jazz Album of the Year" by the San Diego Music Awards.
Pacific Coast Jazz in San Diego is distributed in the U.S. by Big Daddy Music and will be available at fine retail record stores across the nation on April 15. You can hear Leighton's music at his website.