“‘Breathless represents to me the opportunity to take a step back and be a part of the process,” said Phil Perry about his 12th album just released on the Shanachie label.
“I didn’t try to write everything. There is such a thing as being too close to what you do. When you are, you lose objectivity. If I think enough of the cats on this record to hire them, why wouldn’t I allow them to do what they do and be a part of the sound? That’s what making music is about.”
Perry is joined again by his longtime collaborator, producer extraordinaire and pianist, Chris “Big Dog” Davis, who helped select a top-notch selection of melodies including the title track and beautiful ballad “Never Can Say Goodbye,” penned by Barstownative Fred Sawyers;along with stunning covers of Lee Ritenour’s “Is It You?;” the Hal David/Burt Bacharach pop classic “One Less Bell To Answer;” and Stevie Wonder’s “Love’s In Need Of Love Today.”
Of the latter, Perry appreciated the sentiment especially for the sociological era we find ourselves living in.
“Look at how polarized we have become, not only as a community, but as a society in general,” he said. “Look what the secularization of our country has done to us. Ain’t love in need? And ain’t it in need today?”
Perry’s vocal prowess has been co-signed by many of the greatest singers on the planet including Anita Baker, James Ingram, Barbra Streisand and the recently departed Al Jarreau, who dubbed him “the real deal.”
“[He was] one of the most gracious, kind, loving, giving spirits to ever walk this earth,” said Perry of his friend. “Al was from the real old school and that, in terms of entertainment, suggests you take every offer you get, especially if it’s fiscally prudent. I’ve no trouble with his working habit, I just wish he hadn’t worked himself to death, because to die of exhaustion suggests you’ve been exhausted for a while. May he rest in peace and find the bosom of our Lord.
“Al leaving here was just an affirmation of something that I believed when my heart started giving me trouble,” Perry added. “There aren’t but two kinds of people in the world — the ones who work to live and the ones who live to work. Who lives the longest? I rest my case. That’s real talk.”
When asked his opinion of the recent controversy regarding Adele winning Album of the Year over Beyoncé, Perry, a member of the Recording Academy, said he doesn’t watch the Grammys anymore.
“The year that Coolio won best R&B vocal was the last time I looked at a Grammy awards show,” he said, “because I said to myself this cat is a rapper. He ain’t even in the same zip code as a singer and he won when you have Brian McKnight and Jeffrey Osborne, who incidentally has never won a Grammy, waiting. No, I see very plainly now I embarked into something I knew absolutely nothing about and I’m out.”
Perry feels that we’ve over categorized music and doesn’t buy the savior tag anointed to the British pop singer.
“If Adele saved the industry, how come we still ain’t got no retail?” he asked. “Saving the industry encompasses much, much more than was suggested. And who says likes equals sales?”
Of his durability in performing, Perry says: “If I said I was the singer I was 15 years ago, I’d be lying through my teeth. If I said I attempt to be the singer I was 15 years ago, I’d be telling the truth. With every opportunity, I’m trying to get better. I’m just trying to be true to the game. The Bible says your talent will make a way for you. Well if that’s true, in who shall I fear?”
CLIPPETTES: Spend an evening with Dianne Reeves on Feb. 25 at UCLA’s Royce Hall …
Writer/Director Steve McQueen (“12 Years a Slave”) is next filming a remake of the British mini-series “Widows,” to star Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez and Cynthia Erivo (who wowed audiences in London and on Broadway in the revival of “The Color Purple”) …
The Stylistics and Peaches & Herb headline at the Wiltern on Feb. 26 …
The long-anticipated Teddy Pendergrass biopic has new traction with Lee Daniels producing and Tyrese starring as the late Philly soul singer …
Anderson Paak takes the stage on March 2 at Anaheim’s House Of Blues.
TC ON TV: Feb. 24 – “Uncommon Sense with Charlamagne” (MTV2): More straight talk from the controversial radio host in this third season premiere.
Feb. 25 – “Media” (TV1): Penny Johnson Jerald, Brian White, Gary Dourdan, Stephen Bishop, Pooch Hall, Denise Boutte and Finesse Mitchell star in this original movie produced by Radio One leader Cathy Hughes. “Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s” (OWN): Miss Robbie Montgomery’s return to the stage is the focus of this season finale. The Graham Norton Show” (BBCA): Denzel Washington, Keanu Reeves, Whoopi Goldberg and Rag’n’Bone Man
Feb. 26 – “The 89th Annual Academy Awards” (ABC): Jimmy Kimmel hosts. “60 Days In: Atlanta” (A&E): Sneak peek of the next two seasons of cable’s number one unscripted crime series. This time it was shot at Fulton County Jail — one of the most dangerous facilities in the country.
Feb. 27 – “Live with Kelly” (ABC): DJ Khalid, Flo Rida “Africa’s Great Civilizations” (PBS): Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. provides a new look from an African perspective at the vast continent’s history in this three-part special to air across the next two nights. “Chris Webber’s Full Court Pranks” (Tru): David Spade is a producer of this hidden-camera series with sports guests to include Rick Fox, Hope Solo, Candace Parker and more.
Mar. 1 – “TIME: The Kalief Browder Story” (Spike): Shawn “JAY Z” Carter is producer of this six-part docu-series on the 16-year-old African-American student who spent three years in jail on Rikers Island without ever being convicted of a crime.
TASTY QUIP: “Whole Foods does not say ‘No Blacks Allowed.’ But a $7 orange does. That’s the new Jim Crow.” – CHRIS ROCK from the first performance of his “Total Blackout Tour” as reported by the New York Times
As featured in the Los Angeles Wave and Independent, Tasty Clips is one of the leading entertainment newspaper columns on the West Coast, serving nearly one million weekly readers. To reach Bill Vaughan, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @tastyclips.