They used to call the late funk legend James Brown the hardest working man in showbiz. Look out because trombonist Saunders Sermons is starting to vie for that title. Currently on tour with the blues' greatest husband-and-wife team Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi, Sermons knows life on the road like his ABCs.
In his young life Sermons has already performed with legendary acts like hip-hop kingpins Jay-Z, 50 Cent, and Diddy; soul diva Mary J. Blige; Grammy-winning trumpeter Roy Hargrove; and acclaimed saxophonist Mike Phillips. And that's the condensed version. The full list of famous folks who Sermons has worked with can fill a whole paragraph.
But for all his brushes with greatness, Sermons remains a relatively unknown entity to mainstream jazz crowds, a superb session musician who is hired by the best but remains anonymous to the public. That may soon change with Sermons' new album, Classic Delight. On Classic Delight, Sermons unveils his extraordinary ability with the trombone that consistently has him receiving offers from the top of the pops; however, he also reveals that he can sing.
Combining Sermons' jazz background with his passion for vintage soul music, Classic Delight balances the old and the new, longing for the bittersweet crooning of Nat King Cole but with an open ear for Prince's contemporary R&B textures. It's quite an accomplishment for an artist who originally had no intention of playing the trombone. When I was 11 my mom made me take up band and the band director asked me, 'what instrument do you wanna play'? So I told him 'drums.' He looked at me and said, 'there are too many drummers, I want you to play trombone,'" Sermons recalled. So here I am the shortest guy in band being given a horn that you need to have long arms for, which I didn't have at the time."
(Classic Delight is available at iTunes, Amazon, and CDBaby. Follow Saunders Sermons on Twitter: twitter.com/saunderssermons).