Smitty: I must say that I am very, very happy to have a very special guest with me here at JazzMonthly.com. He’s a true entertainer and over the years he has always kept us in the mood for love, he has mastered the fine art of the soloist. He sings with the heat of the night and the bright sunshine of the day. His great new record is nothing less than that. It is called After Tonight. Please welcome one of my favorite entertainers, the incredible and amazing Peak recording artist, Mr. Will Downing. Will, how ya doin’, my friend?
Will Downing (WD): I’m doing very well, man. You had me looking around.
Smitty: (Laughs.) Come on!
WD: Man, I was ready to lay some carnations across my chest.
Smitty: (Laughs.) Oh, that’s too cool, man. Man, it is great to talk with you and to have you back here at JazzMonthly.com.
WD: Oh, man, it’s good to be back, it’s good to be alive, good to be working, good to be putting out some good music.
Smitty: Yes indeed and you have done just that, my friend, wow, because this record, man, I tell ya, if you have never been in the mood for love, this record will put you there. Wow!
WD: Well, I think so. I mean, I’ve tried to be consistent in my messages over the years and consistent musically, and I think that this record is no different from anything I’ve done in the past, you know?
WD: Just ten good songs.
Smitty: Yes it is. Ten great songs with some great musicians of support with you, and happy to see my boy Roy Ayers there on the record with you.
WD: Oh yeah, great Roy.
Smitty: Yeah, man, and then our friend, Mr. Gerald Albright.
Smitty: Yeah, man. It’s a great record. Now, before we get too deep in the record, I just wanted to ask you, for myself as well as all of your fans around the world, how you doin’, man? I know you’ve had some health issues and you’ve gone through some things that you’ve been dealing with and yet rise and shine, here you are once again with a great record, but how you doin’?
WD: Well, 2007 has not exactly been one of my better years as far as health is concerned. In the early part of 2007 I contracted something called Polymyocytis (PM) and it’s a muscle debilitating disease, and basically what this disease does is it takes away all of your muscles. I mean, it reduces you to nothing, really, where you cannot function on your own. You need an aide to do everything. I mean, when I say everything, I mean everything.
Smitty: Wow, unbelievable.
WD: And thank God it’s not something that stays with you, but it really does a lot of damage to your body and then it’s up to you to kind of rebuild all of your muscles to get back into a normal sort of lifestyle, and that’s kind of where I am now. It hit me, like I said, in the beginning of 2007, right in the middle of us recording this record, so when I was able to, we recorded. The whole trick of this thing was I recorded probably about 70% of the record from a wheelchair and from a hospital bed.
Smitty: Oh, man.
WD: Just one of the toughest things I’ve ever done in my life.
Smitty: Well, we are certainly ecstatic that you are coming back and you’re back and you’re doing your thing, and one of the things that I want to point out about you, Will, is that given the fact that you had this debilitating autoimmune disease is the fact that you were able to not just complete this project—because you were in the middle of it, like you said—but the amazing thing is that you produced once again a top shelf project here, and that’s incredible and it says a lot about the person you are and the great entertainer you are as well. So, man, I tell ya, I know I speak for all of your fans around the world. We are just ecstatic that you have come through this and that you have greeted us once again with a fantastic record, man. This is amazing.
WD: Well, thank you, man. I mean, I’ve always believed in a certain standard and if I didn’t think that I could achieve the standard by which people have grown accustomed to hearing from me, you probably would not have heard the project. So thank God He spared a good portion of my voice when we were in the recording process and I was able to finish it, but we used all that I had to make this thing happen, but I’m very pleased with the project and when people hear it, I think they’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Smitty: Yes indeed. I second that, my friend, because I tell ya, this record is way up there. I mean, you didn’t lose anything in terms of creativity, emotions, character, and it bespeaks the person that you are and the person that we have known and loved over the years.
WD: Thank you.