Saxophonist Wayne and bassist Nelson, better known as the Braxton Brothers, are on a roll again. With Rollin' the Braxton Brothers deliver a moving, grooving experience, melding memorable melodies and infectious, funky rhythms. From Smooth Jazz to R&B, Rollin' epitomizes the Braxton Brothers' signature, contagious musical blend.
The eclectic 52 second "Intro" kicking off The Braxton Brothers' highly anticipated Peak Records debut Both Sides offers exciting glimpses of not only their new sound, but also a dynamic new cross genre approach which kicks up smooth jazz's interaction with modern and old school soul sounds to a new level. The piece includes trippy atmospheres, moody fender Rhodes, seductive vocals, Wayne Braxton's sassy alto and tenor sax textures and Nelson Braxton's piccolo and slap bass -- a mix that previews the dynamic jazzy funk experience reflecting the Bay Area based twins' intense musical growth since first endearing themselves to contemporary instrumental music fans with the popular hits "Steppin' Out" (1997) and "Now and Forever" (1999).
Adding to the cool, melodic sweetness of their previous recordings is a tougher edge that's more organic, aggressive, and full of whimsical attitude and a deeper vision. They take the concept of Both Sides even further, offering literally all sides of their developing artistry. The Braxton Brothers attribute part of their neo-soul development to their longtime performing association with popular Bay Area indie singer Ledisi, who appears on three of Both Sides' 12 tracks -- the silky ballad "Better Than Nothing," the throbbing blues-gospel jam "Do What You Feel" and the moody and exotic "If You Love Me."
"Playing live dates with her has helped our R&B chops develop and has exposed us to crowds excited about new ideas in urban music," says Wayne. "We've loved the vibe of the younger audience, and realized there was a way to keep the core of our established sound while adding sexier, more mature flavors to the mix. We've also spent a lot of time honing our studio chops, which naturally led to a wider range of production values reflecting our evolution as both writers and musicians. The tracks on Both Sides create a complete statement of who we are in 2002 and where we're heading. We've been listening to a lot of different soul oriented music these past few years, but we don't just strive to go after one specific sound. Instead, we pull inspiration from everything we love and transform the mix into something new and fresh. The music we make reflects the totality of our experiences."
According to Nelson, all of this is what leads to the exciting dualities which capture the spirit of Both Sides, both figuratively and literally. "We like using the retro instruments, so there's a lot of Rhodes and Hammond B-3 here," he says. "We always wanted to do something with strings, so the songs "So Divine," "What Did I Say" and "If You Love Me" have that emotional power as well."
The Braxton Brothers recorded most of Both Sides at Blue Cherry Music, a popular new San Jose studio. In addition to featuring numerous Bay Area musicians who are longtime Braxton associates, the album features well known smooth jazz guitarist Chris Camozzi on two tracks -- the soaring hip-hop vocal ballad "What Did I Say" (featuring vocals by Seabron Sawyer and the powerful duality of Wayne's multiple tenor textures along with a sweeping four piece string section), and the shuffle groove driven "Whenever I See You."
Tracks from Both Sides are naturally going to be targeted towards both NAC and Urban AC formats, creating something of a "NUAC" effect. "Sayin That," features a unique core bass-sax conversation between the siblings and then percussive blended alto and tenor textures and vocals by Kisha Griffin; these elements play over a foundation featuring Sundra "Sun" Manning on Hammond B-3 and Paizley Hilton on Fender Rhodes. Other key tracks include the film score flavored "So Divine" (featuring Nelson's bass melody weaving around a dual violin harmony line), the atmospheric romance "Back to Love" and the free-spirited, easy grooving "Sometimes."
The Braxton Brothers started their musical journey in 4th grade in the school band and by high school, were well-versed multi-instrumentalists. Their father's work as a mobile DJ ensured that there would always be recording equipment in the house, and the legend goes that they began songwriting at age seven when they got a hold of some pots and pans and their mother's old tape recorder! The twins were selected to the California All State Honor Bands several times, before their paths split in college. Nelson, majoring in tuba performance at San Francisco State University, toured Europe with the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra. Meanwhile, at Cal State Northridge, Wayne was a member of the Jazz A Band, one of the premier collegiate jazz ensembles in the country.
After leaving CSUN, Wayne joined his brother at SFSU, where they performed together in various groups, including an award winning jazz quartet; Wayne's involvement in this quartet earned him an award as outstanding soloist from radio station KJAZ. Spreading the joy further, both twins were also chosen to the Disney All American collegiate band. Both have been active on the San Francisco club and studio scene since their college years, playing in every type of musical situation from big band and flamenco to funk and acid jazz, and writing original material in genres as diverse as country and classical. Wayne has toured with Sheila E. and 13 Cats, and has recorded with Special Generation and the gospel group Crusade. Nelson's resume includes dates with Najee, J. Spencer and Bay Area musicians Pete Escovedo, Ray Obiedo, Andy Narell and saxophonist John Handy.
"We're looking forward to touring this year with a new lineup," says Nelson. "It's great connecting with new fans and meeting musicians whom we've admired since we were kids. One of the keys to making our music is that we work well together and don't let our egos get in the way. Whoever came up with the original concept for the song is usually the one who has the final say so as to how it's arranged, who takes what lead and what harmony. We produce our projects together, but in a sense, I produce Wayne and he produces me. The goal is to end up with something we both like, and if we get that, we know people will respond. We're really excited about being back on the scene with this whole new sound."