There's no shortage of Al Green fans. The R legend has helped shape the genre and continues to do so, as is evidenced by his new studio album Lay It Down. The project features the sophisticated R voices of singer-songwriters and Al Green fans John Legend, Anthony Hamilton and Corinne Bailey Rae, and it was co-produced with Green by two of hip-hop's most innovative players, drummer Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson from the Roots and keyboardist James Poyser, the go-to guy for high-profile artists ranging from Erykah Badu to Common.
The album has been a 2+ year labor of, as Al likes to put it, L-O-V-E. Born from a series of inspired sessions between Green and Ahmir at the famed Electric Lady studios in Greenwich Village that yielded the most high-spirited, funky and often lushly romantic songs of Green's latter-day career, Lay It Down is a refreshingly old school jam, with everyone laying down the music together, face to face, heart to heart, soul to soul.
"The reason why we are doing this is because we all idolize Al Green," declares ?uestlove. "Even today, nobody has range like him."
The sound is purely Al Green, with the artist duets and Ahmir and James' deft touches bringing it into 2008. As Green explains: "They didn't want to get too far out from the foundation that [Hi Records producer] Willie Mitchell and I built--'Call Me,' 'I'm Still In Love With You,' 'Let's Stay Together." We want to keep all of the aura, but we would like to have freedom enough to spread our wings and express ourselves. The Roots, all the guys from Philly who came up to do this stuff with us--they were incredible. I could relax because I knew the people were capable."
Add in Brooklyn's celebrated Dap-King Horns (Sharon Jones, Amy Winehouse), guitarist Chalmers "Spanky" Alford (Mighty Clouds of Joy, Joss Stone) and bassist Adam Blackstone (Jill Scott, DJ Jazzy Jeff), among others, and you've got a modern soul-music dream team, fronted by the most expressive voice in the business.
"It's an honor to be able to work with Al Green, who I have always loved and respected," says John Legend, who duets with Green and Corinne Bailey Rae on the single "Stay With Me (by the sea)". "He has been an important part of black music history, and pop music history for that matter. Al really is a magical singer."
Upcoming Tour Dates
23-May Sonoma Ca Field of Dreams
24-May Reno NV Silver Legacy Hotel & Casino
25-May Aptos CA Aptos Village Park
19-Jun Toronto ON Sony Centre for the Performing Arts
20-Jun Rochester NY Eastman Theatre
27-Jun New York NY Carnegie Hall
28-Jun Montreal QC Montreal Jazz Festival
29-Jun Ledyard CT Foxwoods Resort Casino - MGM Grand
4-Jul Bossier City LA Horseshoe Casino Riverdome
5-Jul Tunica MS Grand Casino & HotelSterling
11-Jul Heights MI Freedom Hill
12-Jul Chicago IL Rochester International Jazz Festival
15-Jul Vienna VA The Filene Center
16-Jul Atlanta GA Chastain Park
18-Jul Niagara Falls NY Seneca Niagara Casino
31-Aug Denver CO Denver Botanic Gardens
1-Sep Beaver Creek CO Vilar Center for the Arts
3-Sep Salt Lake City UT Red Butte Garden Amphitheater
5-Sep Tacoma WA Emerald Queen Casino
6-Sep Coquitlam BC Red Robinson Theater
7-Sep Richmond BC River Rock Casino Resort
13-Sep Primm NV Star of the Desert Arena
17-Sep Lemoore CA Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino
20-Sep Los Angeles CA The Greek Theatre
21-Sep Valley Center CA Harrah's Rincon- Open Sky Theatre
Click here to watch videos of ?uestlove, Anthony Hamilton, John Legend, Corinne Bailey Rae and James Poyser on the making of Al Green's 'Lay It Down.'
Lay It Down feat. Anthony Hamilton
Take Your Time feat. Corinne Bailey Rae
Stay With Me (By The Sea) feat. John Legend
"When you watch [Al Green] perform, you get to see something honest and soulful and amazing." — Justin Timberlake
"If you are going to consider what you do as an artist real R, you have to consider the pioneers of it, and Al just happens to be one of 'em. I respect [Al Green] so so much and you've always been very honest; and that honesty has motivated me to make R music." — Usher