Smitty: Kickin it with me here at JazzMonthly.com is one of the “real deal” musicians in the business. You must check out his great new record. It’s called White Sand and let me tell you, when you talk about this cat, he is just a man with a Grammy groove, from an engineer, from a producer, and as a recording artist as well. Please welcome the spectacular Mr. Paul Brown. Paul, how ya doin’, man?
Paul Brown (PB): Hey, what’s happenin’, brotha?
Smitty: It’s cool my friend, I’m just gonna have to start a Hall of Fame for you, you know? (Both laugh.)
PB: God bless you, man.
Smitty: Wow, man, I love this record. You’ve got that guitar thumpin’, dude.
PB: Oh, wow, thank you. It’s a gas to hear my guitar with great people like Al Jarreau and Bobby Caldwell and Lina, and just to hear their distinct voices and have the guitar sort of on top of them is just a lot of fun to hear for me.
Smitty: Yes indeed, man. I said earlier, “He’s just in heaven with all these great musicians and singers.”
PB: Oh, yeah.
Smitty: You’ve produced so many top hits and worked with so many great musicians, and then you get to play with them and you get to hear them sing. Is it more rewarding to have that atmosphere of them in studio or ProTools, whatever, or is it producing them?
PB: I mean, it’s all good. I enjoy the process of it all and it doesn’t really matter whether I’m producing or writing or playing or engineering, whatever. It’s all part of the same thing, but playing is more fun certainly.
Smitty: Spoken like a true musician. Briefly walk through the process working with some of these great people.
PB: You know, the interplay…I mean, Al…I recorded his vocal first and then I put my guitar on. But with Bobby Caldwell we actually did it at the same time, which was a ball. So that’s really fun to do it that way, and I did it that way with David Benoit on the “R ‘n’ B Bump” song, we played it live, and with Boney [James], we did that together as well, so that’s really fun.
Smitty: Very cool. Now, you and Boney in particular have had a long relationship of working together in a musical sense, and does it get easier or does it just get harder because you’ve done it all?
PB: Well, I mean, with Boney we just have this like unspoken language between us that’s great and musically, when he plays and I play, there’s just a really cool thing that happens. He knows what I’m gonna play and I know what he’s gonna play, so we never really step on each other and we really complement each other in a nice way, but, no, it never gets tiring or old or anything like that. I mean, he’s just such a great player, but we did nine records together, over a hundred songs, and wrote probably 75 of those.
Smitty: Wow! That’s putting it in a really cool perspective.
PB: We’ve definitely gone down the road together there for the last few years.
Smitty: Yeah, so you cats have just developed this cool, symbiosis sort of relationship.
PB: Yeah, it’s really cool.
Smitty: Yeah, the results speak loudly. Now talk to me about these instruments that you’re so fond of. What did you use? How many guitars did you use on this project?
PB: Actually, I used three guitars: the L5 that I played on my first two records….I used that on half of it….and then on my last record on the song “Winelight” I used this other guitar, this Johnny Smith guitar, and I played that on four songs, and I played this Les Paul guitar that I had. I usually play an archtop guitar no matter what, but I used this Les Paul on the song “More or Les Paul” and when I played it, I listened to it back and when I tried my L5 and my Johnny Smith, it just didn’t have enough power for this track, and when I played the Les Paul on there, I listened to it back and I was afraid that it wasn’t a distinct enough sound that didn’t sound like me.…maybe it sounded like Jeff Golub or Chuck Loeb or someone like that, but everybody convinced me that the notes that I was playing still sounded like me, so I was okay with it.
Smitty: (Laughs.) Wow. Well, let’s get into some of these tracks, man. I mean, the title track featuring Jessy [Jessy J] is just incredible.
PB: She’s terrific.
Smitty: Yeah, Can’t wait for solo project.
PB: Yeah, man. It’s a good one.
Smitty: Getting back to your title track, “White Sand.” I mean, right away we hear that Paul Brown groove, you know? And it’s just got that “are you ready for this” kind of vibe.
PB: It’s just a real elegant kind of warm, inviting kind of a thing. When I first heard the track I was just like that just sets me up to wanna just lay back and just listen, you know?
PB: And that song….I don’t know if you’ve seen the cover of the album yet. But it’s a painting by this guy Andrea Razzautti, who’s this amazing Italian painter. He’s also a guitar player. I’ve been working with him on his music and some of his artwork just inspired me to write that particular song, and it’s kinda like a beach, a white sand beach with some palm shadows, and you see the ocean with white sand and it’s just a beautiful image, and so I sent him that song and he actually painted an original painting and that’s what’s on the cover of the album.