On Sunday September 24, 2017, YRB attended a special performance by Keyon Harrold and his band at the world famous BlueNote Jazz club in New York City.
The event was was a preview and a celebration of his upcoming album release The Mugician.
He was joined onstage by by Georgia Anne Muldrow on the tracks “When Will it Stop” and “Wayfaring Traveler”
Photos by: Alexander Laurent
We asked Keyon a few questions in between his sets.
Who are your musical idols/influencers?
Miles Davis, Aretha Franklin, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Quincy Jones, Sarah Vaughn, Marvin Gaye, Jay-z, Motown, John Coltrane, Chaka khan, Bob Dylan, The Clark Sisters, Clifford Brown, David Ruffin, Bill Evens,
What are your top 5 albums of all time?
MJ- Thriller, Marvin Gaye-Here my Dear, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Radio Head In Rainbows, John Coltrane-A Love Supreme
What instrumental gear can you not live without?
I do not leave home without my trumpet, my Mac Laptop, My UA Apollo audio interface, and a microphone. I have to have the option and equipment to create at all times.
How would you describe your new album to someone who hasn’t heard you yet?
My sound starts with the trumpet as the focal point. It is a collaborative mesh of genre melded together to make thoughtful, original, statements musically. The vibe is adventurous, melodic, mood driven, groove oriented, chanty, improvisational, rich and sophisticated; compositionally each song is a journey; Jazz, to hip hop, rock, to classical orchestrations, it is socially aware music from love to politics.
Why the title? What significance does it have?
The title “The Mugician” was derived from a conversation between actor/musician Don Cheadle and I at SXSW last year. I was the trumpet voice of Don, in his portrayal of Miles Davis in the Biopic Miles Ahead. Don expressed that from a difficulty standpoint, what I brought to the movie and sound track was magical, the work of a magician. Since I am a musician that exchange morphed into the word Mugician.
Did you have specific goals in mind while making this record? If so, what were they?
When I made this record, with the help of my friends, I wanted to convey truth, honesty, and the spirit of love through music. I wanted to use all of my musical attributes; as a trumpeter, singer, music producer, composer. My goal is for people to be moved, challenged, and changed from some of the captured moments on the album. I do believe that my job as an artist is to paint and reflect our times; forging soundscapes that resonate from the speakers in to your soul.
Where did you record it, and why there?
For this album I recorded the bulk of this project at Shelter Island Studio in NYC. I have been working out of there for most of the year on other projects because of a great sound, close to home, and I felt comfortable creating in the space. In LA I was able to cut a few tracks at Bronson Island studio. As a matter of fact, two songs on the album Stay This Way and Wayfaring Traveler where cut there and are the only songs that survived after my music was stolen from my car. I lost at least seven year’s worth of musical content, humbling and heartbreaking. In fact, I lost an entire album that would have come out months ago probably. But I imagine the universe didn’t intend for that album to see the light of day.
What is the most interesting thing about this album to you?
The sound of the album is refreshing musically and is still socially conscious.
Something that sticks out to me on this project is how each song is a musical roller coaster. Nothing sounds the same yet it all fits perfectly together.
What did you learn about yourself during the making of this album?
Making this album showed me that If I am honest with myself; my vision, reservations, passions, goals, convictions, and character… my art will be realized and will resonate in others. Be ready to listen to this album as a curated playlist. It is Jazz and improvisation, it is hip hop and lyrical excellence, it is R&B and soul with rock and classical elements. This album is a journey through the Blues, it is political, it is humor, it is empathic reflection, it is family, it is love all wrapped into one project. I feel like there is something for every type of music listener.
What story related to this album do you think you’ll still be telling people 10 years from now?
I will be telling the story of how I felt I lost everything, and how this project was a reminder that I lost nothing because what I felt I lost had not been created yet in terms of music, in terms of love, in terms of success, in terms of happiness.
How would you describe the record in five words?
The Mugician = A… Cinematically Adventurous, Artfully Soulful Mash-up
The Mugician is available everywhere on September 29 from Legacy Recordings/Mass Appeal Records.