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Cliff Beach: Blending Jazz Heritage with Contemporary Soul in You Showed Me The Way

Cliff Beach: Blending Jazz Heritage with Contemporary Soul in You Showed Me The Way
Photo Courtesy: Sheldon Bolter Photography

By Ivy June

In the vibrant landscape of modern music, where genres blend and boundaries blur, Cliff Beach stands as a beacon of innovation and authenticity. His latest album, “You Showed Me The Way,” is not merely a collection of jazz tunes but a profound exploration of musical heritage, creativity, and the art of storytelling through melody. With his roots deeply embedded in the rich soil of American music tradition, Beach’s work is a testament to the enduring power of jazz infused with soulful rhythms and contemporary flair.

Born into a family with deep religious ties in Washington, D.C., Cliff Beach was an outlier, drawn not to the pulpit but to the piano and the stage. His early years were spent harmonizing in church choirs and exploring the intricacies of vocal melody. This foundation laid the groundwork for a journey that would take him from gospel choirs to the hallowed halls of Berklee College of Music and beyond. A dedicated student of voice and business management in music, Beach has always straddled the line between artistic passion and entrepreneurial acumen.

After moving to Los Angeles in 2003, Beach’s career began to gain momentum. From modest gigs to commanding performances backed by a full band, his journey reflects not just personal growth but also an evolving musical landscape. His education continued at Pepperdine University with an MBA focusing on marketing—a move that underscores his commitment to navigating the complex terrain of today’s music industry.

Cliff Beach’s discography is a mirror reflecting ten years of relentless creativity and exploration. Albums like “Who the Funk is Cliff Beach?” have garnered critical acclaim, propelling him into the limelight with nominations for prestigious awards. Alpha Magazine succinctly captured his essence: “Cliff Beach is a one-of-a-kind musician…his soulful funky music style.” Indeed, his fusion of jazz, soul, traditional R&B, funk, and neo-soul has resonated with audiences worldwide.

“You Showed Me The Way” marks a pivotal moment in Beach’s career—it’s his heartfelt homage to Ella Fitzgerald while showcasing his prowess as both singer and arranger. Unlike previous works featuring primarily original compositions, this album delves deep into Fitzgerald’s illustrious songbook. Each track offers listeners a journey through different periods of her career but seen through Beach’s unique lens.

Perhaps most intriguing about this project is Cliff’s decision to step away from piano duties—a role he entrusted to Munenori “Moon” Kishi. This choice underscores his trust in collaboration and highlights Kishi’s remarkable ability to bridge genres effortlessly. The ensemble assembled for this album—including talents like Evan Mackey (music director), Rubén Salinas (baritone sax), Sam Williams (tenor sax), Luis Cárdena-Casillas (trumpet), Satoshi Kirisawa (drums), Andy Moresi (guitar), Leah Conciladi (baritone and alto saxes), Joe Ferruzzo (trumpet)—brings together musicians adept at navigating between jazz standards’ historical depth and contemporary interpretations.

The album opens with “That Old Black Magic,” setting an electrifying tone that permeates throughout—swinging rhythms interwoven with funky beats that encapsulate joyous celebration. Yet it’s on tracks like “How Long Has This Been Going On” where Beach’s versatility shines brightest; his treatment navigates emotional depth without losing sight of jazz’s playful spirit.

Closing with “The Gift of Blues,” an original composition by Beach himself, we are reminded once again why he remains an important figure in modern music—his ability to craft songs that feel timeless yet immediate is unparalleled.

On speaking about Ella Fitzgerald—a major influence on this project—Beach noted her incredible versatility: “I’ve been so inspired by her not only because she was an amazing improviser but she also delved into different types of music later in her career.” It’s clear that similar versatility fuels Cliff’s artistic vision.

As we celebrate “You Showed Me The Way,” it becomes evident that Cliff Beach isn’t just revisiting history; he’s redefining it for new generations who crave authenticity married with innovation. In doing so, he continues to build bridges across genres—an effort that enriches our collective musical tapestry.

Stay connected with Cliff Beach as he charts new territories in music by following him on Instagram @cliffbeachmusic or explore more about “You Showed Me The Way” on Spotify [open.spotify.com/album/4HaIgObFa5DUo7wJy8970R?si=5X2CNLAJSjGsptPM57TAAA

Published by: Holy Minoza

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