Mr. BS Boogie Band
Mr. B's Boogie Band is an East Coast musical group specializing in Soul. Ask 10 people what they think 'soul music' is and you'll hear 10 different answers. R&B, blues, funk, gospel, disco and Motown are just a few that fit the bill, and Mr. B's Boogie Band dips into all of these without losing the group's singular sound. That's because the Boogie Band's bottom line is to drench everything they play with soul and a danceable groove. Mr. B's Boogie Band, their debut CD on the Lemel label, displays their fresh but familiar sound, hip-shaking grooves and strong material. It also lays out the three cornerstones of their agenda: peace, love, and fantastic, foot-stomping music. While producer Noah Baerman began his studies with piano lessons at age 8, his alter ego, Mr. B, learned by keeping his ear tuned to the soul masters. From James Brown, Mr. B learned how to build onstage intensity; from Ray Charles, how to make a piano shiver and moan. From Sly Stone he observed a band so tight that the groove couldn't quit; and from George Clinton's P-Funk, he saw how to run a tight ship and still leave room for individuality. In the early 1990's, Mr. B led the New Haven, CT, band Mental Floss. In '92, after two years of gigs, Noah Baerman retired the band and the Mr. B persona, feeling that his Stevie Wonder styled soul wasn't suited for Connecticut's pop scene. Around that time, Noah joined the jazz combo led by 'young lion' Jimmy Greene, and began his career as a jazz musician. Noah attended Rutgers University in New Jersey, where he was mentored by jazz great Kenny Barron. By the late 1990's, his jazz career was in full swing with three published method books, frequent gigs, and 5 ½ years with the group Positive Rhythmic Force. Despite the success of the group's two CD's, Noah never stopped writing pop tunes. After years of feeling alienated by the pop world, he began to notice contemporary artists like Me'Shell NdegeOcello, Lenny Kravitz and Jamiroquai giving a modern perspective to classic soul music and being embraced by both alternative and mainstream audiences. In early 1999, his song 'I See the Light' (the closing number on the debut Boogie Band CD) was used in the original play 'the False Door.' After watching the song inspire a nightly standing ovation as it closed each night's performance, he knew it was time for Mr. B to rise again. The first recruit for Mr. B's new band was lead vocalist and boogie diva Lea Osborne. While pursuing a degree in operatic singing, Lea willfully concealed her talent as a pop/soul songstress. Fortunately for the Boogie Band, Noah heard Lea sneak in for a few choruses of 'Summertime' at an after-hours jam session he hosted. Says Mr. B, 'anybody who isn't moved by Lea's singing is either deaf or in a coma.' The next task was to build the 'Boogie Band Groove Machine,' a rhythm section that could handle working with both Noah's sophisticated songs and Mr. B's intensity. Guitarist Amanda Monaco had been gigging throughout New York for years with her popular jazz trio the Amanda Monaco Three, as well as playing sidewoman to swing bands, jazz artists, pop groups and singer-songwriters. New Jersey's Bob Hart had handled electric and acoustic bass duties for dozens of bands in myriad styles, logging tour miles with groups from the rockers You Were Spiraling to the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. Canadian drummer Russ Meissner had been a visible force in the New York music scene since his arrival in 1995, working with pop and jazz groups both in the city and on tours of the United States, Japan, and Europe. The final step was assembling the 'Peace Brigade Air Corps,' a horn section combining Earth, Wind and Fire funk with Miles Davis cool. Brooklyn saxophonist Steve Lehman caught Noah's ear at a jazz jam with his intensity. When Noah phoned to invite him into the band, Steve had just left to gig for six months in Europe. But when he landed stateside, Mr.B was waiting. With the rest of the band in place, Noah enlisted trumpet queen Mrs. B, whose experience ranged from big bands and orchestras to Rhode Island's groove group Mythical Ethical Tricycle. Under the layman's-name Kate TenEyck, she was also a successful visual artist, bringing with her the skills to handle creations such as the CD's eye-catching cover. Rehearsals and gigs led to the recording of Mr. B's Boogie Band in November of 1999. Produced by Noah Baerman, the CD sets his original tunes alongside classics like '(You Make Me Feel Like) a Natural Woman' and 'Disco Inferno.' But while Noah oversaw the record, Mr. B took over as soon as the tape rolled, leading the band through tune after tune of full tilt soul. The CD demonstrates their versatility, moving from aching ballads like 'Since the Blues Walked In' to a Stax-flavored reworking of '(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding,' as well as forays into the worlds of funk, blues, disco, gospel, and even salsa. And the lyrics waste no time in spelling out their agenda. The openener, 'Boogie Treat' warns, 'the way that we rock the beat will knock you right off your feet.' On the next track, 'Peace Brigade,' Lea wails 'there ain't no barricade good love can't break through!' With that, the Boogie Band forges ahead, breaking through barricades with their songs, grooves, and message of peace, love and fantastic funky music. This time, Mr. B is here to stay.