Chart-topping pianist JOHN FLUKER is giving a special present this Christmas--J Is For Joy
, an album of both R&B-influenced vocals and jazzy instrumentals that celebrates the night Jesus was born by presenting unique arrangements of classic carols along with original music. The music shows his influences--years of performing at church as well as backing top singers such as Gladys Knight, Dionne Warwick, Oleta Adams, Boys II Men, Queen Latifah and Regina Belle.
Fluker made big waves with his previous recording, The Sound of Peace, which spent two months in the #1 position on the national contemporary instrumental Top 100 radio airplay chart. That all- instrumental debut album spotlighted his piano-playing and composing. Now he is showing a whole other side of his musical personality by also showcasing his singing talents on J Is For Joy.
J Is For Joy begins with a half-dozen vocal selections that come from Fluker's R&B background, but also have a jazzy quality. These songs paint a vivid picture of the birth of Jesus Christ including the call to bring people together, the star marking the site, travelers paying homage, the baby in the manger, the joyous celebration, and then the quiet, peaceful setting as the baby falls asleep during his first night on earth. The recording ends with Fluker reprising four of the previous songs, but this time in jazzy, mostly-instrumental versions punctuated with only a few vocal highlights.
John chose to sing five traditional carols: Oh Come All Ye Faithful," We Three Kings," Away in a Manger," Joy To The World" and Silent Night"--but fits them with jazzy, somewhat improvisational arrangements like they have never been heard before. There was no point recording these standards unless I could bring something fresh and different to them," he explains. I enjoyed the freedom of embellishing them my own way and using elements of Pop, R&B and Jazz." The upbeat Joy To The World" is a duet between John and Florence LaRue of the group 5th Dimension (they have 20 Top-40 hits and six Grammy Awards). Fluker does a slow, peaceful version of the classic song Away in a Manger," influenced by the late jazz-gospel pianist Thomas Whitfield. I wanted the song to be as delicate as the feeling of holding a newborn baby in your arms," John says.
The other full-vocal piece is Follow The Brightest Star," written by Fluker with Melissa Vardey. John says, The bright star in the heavens above where Jesus was born was a sign of hope and guidance, and in this song I wonder why can't we make life better for one another and have the Christmas spirit all year long?"
Christmas is always a magical time of the year when people are kind, giving and peaceful. I have wonderful childhood memories of Christmas pageants, caroling, sledding, my mother's gingerbread, chocolate ornaments that were always disappearing off our tree, candle-light church services, and reenactments of Jesus' birth. With my holiday album, I look at each of these songs as gifts that I have wrapped up in colorful, new arrangements and handed to the world. Merry Christmas!"