This weekend, venerable jazz club Sweet Lorraine’s will host not one, not two, but four concerts on August 24 and 25 from a guest artist: Frank McComb. No, McComb is not a local artist, nor is he a trad jazz artist. Frank McComb is a contemporary soul and modern jazz artist. He is the type of musician with timeless talent and righteous lyrics that, in today’s American music industry, sometimes gets lumped into the “neo-soul” genre, and other times simply just gets missed altogether – in the States that is. But he plays a rare series of intimate shows in New Orleans this Saturday (August 24) and Sunday (August 25).
Discovered while still in his late teens by Gerald Levert during the R&B boy band craze of the late ’80s and early ’90s, the young keyboardist and vocalist left the Rust Belt for Philadelphia on a suggestion from DJ Jazzy Jeff where he almost immediately found himself on staff as a studio musician with the legendary Gamble and Huff. As many of the famed production duo’s studio musicians often were, McComb was soon scouted by other labels and leading artists. He would go on to record with icons like Prince, Chaka Khan, Teddy Pendergrass, Roberta Flack and Teena Marie.
The Cleveland, Ohio native has carried his family’s gospel roots with him throughout a musical career that has since taken him around the globe touring not only with legends like Teena Marie, Philip Bailey and New Orleans’ own Branford Marsalis, but in support of his own releases as well. In fact, his first two solo albums were never released in the States, nor distributed through any major industry record company. While sales of his debut album, Love Stories (2000) and his follow-up, The Truth (2002) soared in Europe and Asia, only a niche group of contemporary soul fans in America had ever heard of Frank McComb. While fans in Europe and Asia paid as much as $50 for bootlegs of his CDs, both major labels that originally signed him, Motown and Columbia, released him from contract without ever putting out his music. Even the independent imprint McCombe sat with for some time, Malibu Sessions recognized his audience was overseas and would not agree to pay for U.S. distribution of The Truth.
Almost a decade later, still largely unknown and unsung at home, McComb realized that he might as well put out his stash of recordings himself, hence Boobeescoot Music was born. Under this moniker, he released at least 10 albums internationally, including the two the majors never released, as well as three live discs. He has also stayed steady on the tour circuit as a result, in addition to staying at the forefront of indy soul scenes stateside through hubs like SoulTracks.com, SoulBounce.com, BamaLovesSoul.com and more. This subculture has awarded McComb with multiple Soul Tracks Awards and nominations between 2005 and 2011, including Album of the Year for Straight from the Vault, his first release on Boobeescoot.
His vocal stylings are often compared to Donny Hathaway and even Stevie Wonder, while his keys likened to Herbie Hancock, one of his personal influences. Though his chords flirt heavily with futuristic tones, they are warm enough to dance tightly with his pure gospel-soul voice. It is no wonder McComb’s music is often dubbed “modern” jazz with its uptempo swing, but it just as often begs the question as to why industry folks won’t just let him be what he is – a soul artist, a jazz artist. The music industry can be funny sometimes. Ok, most of the time.
Either way, you can experience the man;s music and decide for yourself how you want to peg Frank McComb this weekend. In a concert series barely announced flying low under the radar, 1905 Entertainment presents Frank McComb at Sweet Lorraine’s Jazz Club (1931 St. Claude Ave) this Saturday, August 24 at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., and again Sunday, August 25 at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Tickets are $15 advance or $20 at the door. Tickets and more info available here.
Frank McComb live in concert
Date: Saturday, August 24 and Sunday, August 25
Time: 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. shows nightly
Venue: Sweet Lorraine’s Jazz Club
1931 St. Claude Ave. (map)
Neighborhood: Marigny / St. Roch
Tickets: $15 advance | $20 door
More Info: www.frankmccomb.info