Sometimes you meet an artist that defies logic and reasoning. Their music takes you to another place and you’re forced to reconcile the very existence of everything you know. Such is the story of keyboardist extraordinaire John Novello. So while it’s almost an injustice to compress his biography into just one page, here goes:
After moving to L.A. John quickly wound up playing with Taste Of Honey which then had a #1 song, “Boogie Oogie, Oogie”! That led to many other gigs playing with esteemed soul, pop, and jazz artists like Donna Summer, Manhattan Transfer, Ramsey Lewis, Edgar Winter, Ritchie Cole, to name but a few. Soon after developing a following of this own, Novello gave fusion fans a huge body of work with his group Niacin, a trio that has remained a defining figure in progressive jazz rock. Originally on Chick Corea’s Stretch label, Niacin’s experiential influence on modern musicianship can be compared to the shock wave created by Herbie Hancock with sonic surrealism. Then a few years ago in a show of remarkable diversity, Novello released his critically acclaimed B3 Soul album and the eponymous single featuring John’s soulfully smooth and funky B3 organ style that demonstrates his devotion to the art of the groove combined with the pre-eminence of unforgettable melody.
After leaving his keyboard signature imprint on numerous transcendent recordings and shows, the story of the man, the music and the groove has come full circle this time on acoustic piano with his current hit single release, “Crush” featuring Gerald Albright on saxophone. Released on the 529 Music label, this latest infuses old-school jazz and a soulful pop R&B mix with funky crisp verses capped off by Albright’s sweeping sax in the choruses. Fans will hear that “Crush” is indeed a “return home” and yet a leap forward for this musician that was nursed on blues and soul jazz. Explains Novello, “I’ve played lots of music and what is important to me is my roots. This project is me coming back to those roots. Besides, I love playing ‘feel good’ music which touches the listener’s soul.”
Now with his brand new album “Ivory Soul” Novello doubles down gliding and grooving through a set with some help from great sax players Tom Scott and Eric Marienthal on songs like “Shuffle The Deck” and “I Can’t Stop My Heart”. On “Funk Shui”, Novello delves into that most sacred of jazz inner sanctums created by Miles Davis while the title track “Ivory Soul” becomes no less than an epic adventure leaving the listener’s ears somewhere between the Village Vanguard and Beale Street. Add to this mix the Latin bounce of “Fiestaville”, the rich down home flavor of Novello’s take on “Put Your Records On”, along with the joyous interpretations of standards “Black Bird” and “Stella by Starlight” and the album’s title becomes self explanatory. John Novello looks forward to touring behind “Ivory Soul” with an all-star band!