8th & Mona Lisa
People have been asking me where the title "8th & Mona Lisa" comes from. Well, of course, there being eight songs on the album did play in to it some what, but that's getting a little too logical. 8th & Mona Lisa is a hypothetical street corner created solely in my imagination. "8th," of course, is none other than 8th Avenue in New York City. I have spent many years living in the heart of New York very close to 8th Avenue. 8th is an incredible street with a long history of both triumph and heartbreak. It has long been an avenue known by performers. Cutting right through New York's famous Theatre District, it has harbored some of the most well known dance and rehearsal studios ever. It has also, through the years, harbored prostitutes, pimps, hustlers and sham artists. Sailors during Fleet Week walk up and down 8th Avenue. It has an allure, which is undeniable. I love 8th Avenue. I love it's history and diversity, it's unabashed sleaziness. It has, in a very strange way, helped shape who I am as a person and an artist. I am very proud of this album. It marks a turning point for me as a singer. The musicians are no less than superb. For me, working with great musicians is a real priority and I consider myself to be no more important than they are. On this album you will find wonderful instrumental solos that are integral to the material. My co-producer and Musical Director, Wells Hanley, is quite simply, one of the best in the business. In today's nostalgia craze, where everyone seems to be doing jazz standards, I listen to a lot of it and I think, "OK, that's very nice . . .but why? You haven't brought anything new to it. Why should I listen to you, when I can listen to the original artists who recorded this?" I think what's key to keeping this kind of music alive and relevant to us today, is to mix it up a little. Bring yourself to it. Do it a little differently. Tell us through this music, who you are and what you're feeling. This is what I'm trying to do here. Who knows if I'm succeeding. Maybe time will tell. Meanwhile, Well's and I have already started working on the next album. So stay tuned. Peace. J. Michael Reeds.