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CURT JONES 2011 SOULMUSIC.COM INTERVIEW
Solo Vu

Phone interview recorded April 2011

From the time he started attending concerts as a pre-teen, New Jersey native Curt Jones knew he was destined for a career in music. His mom had already planted the family's roots in the business as part of an early female group on Motown, while his dad's panache for jazz expanded his interest in various instruments. As a teenager, Curt was already fronting his own bands — getting primed for his imminent contributions to the era-defining Slave and, out of that, the unique and unforgettable Aurra. He racked up an impressive ten R&B hits with partner Starleana Young (later as Deja) before trying his hand at outside production and, now, his own "Solo" career...



Justin Kantor: This is Justin Kantor of SoulMusic.com. Today, I have the chance to speak with a gifted singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who attained his first big break as a contributing player and composer for the momentous funk band, Slave. He next went on to spearhead the soulfully diverse Aurra and Deja, first with cohort Starleana Young and then with partner Mysti Day. After taking some time to produce for other acts, he returned to the artist fold a few years ago with 360 Degrees. Now, he expands on the heartfelt premise of that musical delight with Solo, a new double-disc effort which allows listeners further entry into his introspective composing skills and adept playing talents. Please welcome Mr. Curt Jones.

Justin Kantor: It’s nice to speak with you after enjoying your music for a long time — since my childhood actually, when I first enjoyed the sounds of Deja. I remember growing up seeing you guys on BET's Video Soul with Donnie Simpson and doing the “You and Me Tonight” video. Then, when I went to Berklee College of Music and started studying some of the music from before, I was turned on to all the Aurra albums and Slave. So, it’s really cool that you’ve made important contributions to a lot of era-defining music in the soul and funk realm. From what I’ve read, you grew up listening to not only soul artists, but also some of the big band sounds. Was that from your father’s influence?

Curt Jones: Yeah, I listened to pretty much everything. My father’s influence: he played a lot of jazz in the house. He had all the greatest jazz records and things of that nature. I listened to everybody from Lionel Hampton to Ray Charles to Kenny Burrell — it goes on and on. And this kind of runs in my family, because on my mother’s side, her sisters sang with Motown when it was first starting.

JK: Oh, really? Were they in a group on the label?

CJ: Right. They were called The Davenport Sisters; and they were on a subsidiary of Motown called Tri-Phi back in the day. They knew everybody: Marvin Gaye, The Spinners— when everybody ate out of the same pot of beans, you know? Motown was just getting off the ground. Before that, my grandfather used to have a big band called Davenport’s Blue Rhythm Band. He played a bunch of instruments. The jazz pianist Earl “Fatha” Hines started in his band.

JK: So, was there a moment in time where you felt destined for a life in music, or was it something that was underneath the surface from as far back as you can remember?

CJ: Yeah, I felt like it was something that I was always gonna do. I was singing all the time as a kid, and like I told you, my mother’s sisters played and they had their group. One of my aunts, Penny, she sang with them and played guitar; so it was all them singing. They spent time when I was a kid at our house, and they even rehearsed down in the basement. I’d always sit next to her when she was sitting there with the guitar and they were rehearsing. I think I was seven years old when I asked for an electric guitar for Christmas.

That’s when I got my first guitar. I started taking lessons for about a year, and then I kind of let it go because I wanted to do things that kids did: join Cub Scouts and go out and play and all that. Then around 12 or 13, when I got into Junior High and they had not just a marching band but a stage band with a rhythm section and everything, I saw one of those guys playing guitar. I said, “Man, that’s cool. I can do that.” It made me pick my guitar up; and I never put it back down.

JK: I've read that Jimi Hendrix was someone of influence to you. Is that accurate?

CJ: Oh, yeah, absolutely. Jimi Hendrix… so many: Carlos Santana, B.B. King, Kenny Burrell, a jazz guitarist. Man, my ears and eyes would just light up any time I heard anybody playing guitar, but those guys were always significant in how they reached you and inspired you. And when you’re young like that and you’re trying to find out how to become a player and learn different stuff! Me and a couple of guys that were growing up trying to learn how to play, man, we would just listen to all these guys.

JK: Did you have the chance to see any of your idols in person, or was it mainly through hearing their records?

CJ: I used to go to a lot of concerts when I was a kid coming up, and I tell some of my friends now and they’re in awe. Because I was telling them when Michael Jackson died, I said, “Man, I feel like I lost a big part of my life,” because I was at all of those shows when he was 10, 11, 12, 13 at Madison Square Garden when they’d come as the Jackson 5. That was when orchestra seats, the best seats in the house, were $7.50.

JK: Yeah, times have changed a little bit.

CJ: Yeah, that’s right. Me and friends from the neighborhood, we would gather everybody around and say we were going to see the Jackson 5, and then we’d go collect the money and he and I would go in on the train to Penn Station and go right upstairs to Madison Square Garden and look up the seating and we’d get the tickets. So we’d bring them home. We would go and see him every year. Even then, man, you knew you were looking at something totally different and special. The Jackson 5 sounded great and you could tell they’d put their practice time in and it was great-sounding music, but Michael, man… you had to constantly remind yourself that you were looking at a 12-year-old kid.

JK: So was he someone that inspired you? Because we talked about your influences with guitar. Had you always sung as well?

CJ: Yeah, I was already singing, but he was definitely one person that was very inspirational. But the one that really made a connection before Michael even came along —because my aunts knew him and I already had the records—was Marvin Gaye. The way he presented himself and the way he sang, it moved me in a way where I just said, “I gotta do that.” He was one of the main catalysts. There was a special connection with Marvin and myself.

JK: I had read that one of the groups that you had early on, I guess before you got into the recording industry, was a group called StarChild?

CJ: Yeah, that group was an extension from one we had before that called Symphonic Express. We actually were Symphonic Express when we met Steve Washington from Slave. He started coming down to rehearsals. He had met my aunt at a club and she brought him down to rehearsal to come check us out and give us pointers. As time went on, he decided we were going to start working with him more and he was going to try to whip us into shape — try to record some songs he would submit to record labels.

JK: This is when he had already come out with Slave, right?

CJ: Yeah, he was just about to come out with it. He had the record cut and they were waiting on some contractual things to get cleared up before the record went out. One time he brought a reel-to-reel tape at the end of rehearsal and said, “I got a tape of the band.” I said, “Oh, yeah, for some of the records that you’re going to put out?” He said, “Yeah, you want to hear it?” and I said, “Yeah, sure.” So we went upstairs to my room; I had an old reel-to-reel tape recorder; we put it on. I always laugh when I say this, but I always say, “This is a friend of mine and he’s really a cool guy, so even if it doesn’t sound that great I’m going to be very positive and be encouraging.” The first thing that I heard was “Slide," and my jaw dropped. I just looked at him and said, “That’s your band, man?” and he said, “Yeah, yeah.” I said, “That’s nice.” [Laughs] I couldn’t say anything else—it blew me away.

JK: You were taken aback! So, you were telling the story of how you were blown away hearing “Slide." What were the steps leading up to your actually joining forces? I think that Starleana came in on The Concept and you came in on Just a Touch of Love when you started writing with some of the band members. How did that all play out?

CJ: Starleana was in Symphonic Express with us. When we were starting to pick up engagements, my Aunt Penny, the one that played guitar with The Davenport Sisters, saw how serious I was getting. So, she took it on and started managing us and rehearsing us and then getting dates for us. She was working at AT&T, and Starleana’s sister was, too. I guess she mentioned that her nephew had a band and was playing, and Star’s sister said, “Well, I have a sister that sings." We were looking for another female vocalist: we had one and we wanted two, and one of them had just left so we had to fill the spot, so they arranged for Starleana to come down and audition. I think she was 15 at the time.

She came down and sang Natalie Cole’s “Inseparable," and she sounded really good. And we said, “Wow, she’s got the look and she sounds great. That’s it!” That made the transition into StarChild. When we were working with Stevie, at some point it got to a place where he was trying to get us a deal. Then, I think our bass player had to leave. He went out to California or something. So, we were trying to find a bass player to fill the spot. We never found a guy that we liked, and we never really continued that band. But in the meantime, Star was going to go on and keep working with Stevie. He asked me what I was going to do and I said, “Well, this is my band and I’m the captain. I’ve gotta go down with the ship.” We never found a bass player, so that kind of split up. But then, I started working a day job here and there, working part-time in the evening, cleaning up this bank. For some reason, I picked up the phone and used to call people, and that one particular night I called Stevie and said, “How are you doing, man? I ain’t talked to you in a while. Just reaching out, wanted to see how you were doing.” He said, “Yeah, what are you doing?” I said, “I’m just working this little part-time job right now, I’ll be off in about an hour.” He said, “Man, I was going to call you this week. That’s weird, ’cause I wanted to talk to you about a couple of things.” So I went up to talk that week, and he’d been planning on doing something with Slave. This was between The Concept album and the Just a Touch album. Star had already worked on The Concept album with them. And Steve Arrington came from California, then came back into the fold and started working with them. He had been working with Shelia E. — Pete and Sheila Escovedo, Carlos Santana and all of them.

In-between that, Steve Washington called me up and said, “This is what I’m planning on doing." Kind of what George Clinton had done. He had the vision to do it long before Prince did it. He said, “I’d like to produce you, I'd like to produce Star. At the same time while we’re working on your projects, you could work with the group and go out on the road.” So I said, “Sure, that’d be great. I didn’t expect that.” So, we weren’t contractually signed into Slave, because we were separate entities that were going to do offspring projects, but we worked with the group under the same production company. And that’s how it kind of got going: I sort of got on when they were in the process of working on the Just a Touch of Love record and I got to contribute ideas. I was just happy enough to be able to sing and stuff, or play and whatever, and go on the road and play with them, but they even allowed me to write songs and do stuff.

JK: “Shine” and “Roots” were songs that you cowrote, right?

CJ: Yeah, I think it was that and “Thank You” and “Are You Ready for Love."

JK: With the different kind of arrangement you had, not being under a strict contract, was it something where you were easily able to go and get a contract with Salsoul Records? Did Steve set that up for you or was that Aurra?

CJ: We did the Just A Touch record, and before we even went out on the road with that we had started working on the idea for a new project. Stevie was sitting at the table and he called Salsoul Records and talked to Ken Cayre and he was saying, “This is Steve Washington from Slave with Atlantic Records,” and he was saying, “From Slave?” and he said, “Yeah.” So they were interested right away in what we had to talk about. We started talking about doing a project, and that project became the first Aurra album.

JK: What made him decide on Salsoul Records? Did he go shopping a deal, or specifically have Salsoul in mind?

CJ: Well, I think he had a few people in mind that he may have spoken to, but with Salsoul, they were very interested right away. They had major distribution as well, which we were concerned about. At that time, they were an independent label distributed by RCA. So, we knew that it could get distributed worldwide without a problem. We proceeded to slate out a deal and work out how it was going to be. To tell you the truth, the original Aurra contract was just me: I was Aurra; I signed the contract as the artist. The very first album had Starleana on it singing backgrounds. It was a mixture of a whole lot of stuff. The track “When I Come Home” is a classic funk groove, but it took off in the Paradise Garage and a lot of dance clubs in New York. It was a classic track with Mark Adams playing bass, Steve Arrington on drums, I was on guitar and lead vocals, we had the Slave horns on it. And it’s still considered a masterpiece. It was a blessing and an honor to just be a part of something like that with those guys.

JK: Was it the intention from that point to sort of spotlight you and Star; or was it still the band concept like Slave? Because one would usually see the two of you on the front cover. Was there any specific goal in mind as to who was going to be spotlighted or who actually wanted to be attached to the name Aurra?

CJ: Well, it was still the same contract. But what had happened, we went out on the road after we did that record and did the Just A Touch tour. Starleana and I were always singing together on the tour bus, because we had always sang together back when we were in the group. So Stevie knew we sounded good together. One of my favorite songs was a song that Michael McDonald recorded with Nicolette Larsen a long time ago — I think it's called “If It’s Over Let Me Know, Love." It was beautiful. Starleana and I would sing the harmonies to that all the time, just having fun. Stevie and Mark Adams always looked at each other, they just loved that. So when we got back off the road I asked him, “Well, we’re thinking about how we’re gonna do the next record, and Star and I have always wanted to do a duet. Can we do that as a project?” So with the second Aurra album, this became the same formula that we had. It was funk, but with more of my songwriting diversity — because as I told you, when I was younger, I listened to all kinds of music. I liked the writing style of Seals and Crofts and different people like that. You hear it in Aurra, you hear it back from when I was in Slave, but then you listen to the diversity of the kinds of songs of Aurra, and it’s much more diverse than the ones I did with Slave.

JK: Right, with a song like “Kingston Lady"?

CJ: Right, right. That was kind of my direction, where I would take things. So we just did it with a duet kind of formula. I kept writing more and more material, and it just helped me be more in touch with expressing whatever I wanted to do writing-wise; it gave me an opportunity and a form to do it. And as you keep doing it, you evolve.

JK: In relation to Mark Adams’ passing, are there any things you would like to say about his legacy or his contributions to your career or your musical evolution?

CJ: Yeah, he was amazing. Mark was an awesome bass player, awesome artist, and the sound that he had was the sound that was evolved from him and his style of playing. With Steve Washington’s knowledge about sound, he helped create that sound that was unmistakably identifiable. And he used it with different equipment. We were one of the only acts that had the equipment that we had. We had earthquake cabinets and different speakers that crossed over certain frequencies which provided low-end cycles that were so low that you couldn’t even hear them — but you could feel them, which was amazing. We used them in the studio. There was a time we were recording at Atlantic. Mick Jagger came in and heard the system, and was so blown away with the sound of the group, he asked if he could take the system out on the road. But the time he wanted to take it out, we were slated to go out on another tour. But just for somebody like Mick Jagger to come in and think it’s that awesome — for some pretty young guys that are just out of high school, that’s pretty good, you know?

JK: Pretty impressive. You mentioned Monte Moir, which is interesting because he is actually playing on your new record on “Spend My Time With You” — I think he does an organ solo. Obviously, you enjoyed working with him before. Has he been a continued musical collaborator of yours, or how did it come about that you worked with him again on the new Solo record?

CJ: From the first Deja album when we worked together, we became really good friends while we were doing the tracks. The deal was to go up to Minneapolis, record three songs and come back and talk with Mick Clark to discuss how we were going to go about finishing the rest of the record. Before we were finished with the third song, I told him, “This is coming along great, Mick. I’d rather just stay up here and do the whole record up here. Monty’s great, the whole situation is great.” So we did the whole record up there.

JK: You took a very different musical direction when you worked with Teddy Riley and Gene Griffin for the Made to Be Together album. I know you still wrote a couple of songs, like “Dreamer” and “Sexy Dancer”; but was it the kind of situation where you had to be at the mercy of the record company, or was it intentional on your part to change directions with the departure of Starleana? How did that unfold?

CJ: Well, when the split came with Starleana and I, it was very disappointing — because everything was taking off so well. Maybe the time was coming for us to split anyway, but the way it went down was: all these years we had worked together, and then she wanted to change management. That’s not the way she presented it to me. The way she presented it was, she was going to make a decision on who she wanted to manage us. I said “No, I’m not.” That’s how it ended. I talked with her about that years later and I said, “That was a decision you and I were supposed to make together. What should happen is you sit down and say, “Okay, let’s find somebody that we’re both happy with here,” but that never happened. So when that ended, everybody was disappointed and upset. But Virgin told me to find someone, audition who I wanted to audition, and try to get another girl to do it. People were sending tapes from all over the country. What impressed me most was, Mysti didn’t send just a tape; she sent a VHS tape of her performing live in a club with her band, and she was doing Aretha Franklin and killin’ it. She had showmanship. When I saw that, I called my manager in New York and I said, “Andy." He said “Yeah?” I said, “Don’t accept another tape. I have found the girl. This is it.” Then, what happened with Mick Clark, they started talking with Teddy Riley and Gene Griffin, put it together so we could work with them. They were like the hottest guys around.

JK: It’s interesting, because you did that New Jack Swing sound, yet it was kind of different being that you had such a soulful and funky background, it kind of gave it a different edge. I think you wrote “Made to Be Together” with Gene Griffin, and that song is considered a New Jack Swing classic, but it also had a more melodic element than a lot of songs in that style might have.

CJ: That wasn’t written with Gene Griffin. I don’t know how Gene put the credits down, but what happened was, the first meeting I had with Teddy we were talking business, and then me and Teddy were talking about these things and I said, “I got a tape.” He said, “You got a tape?” His eyes went big like a little kid. He said, “Well, I want to hear the music.” So right away I had a demo version of “Dreamer,” and he was freaking out over it. I think he knew that this was going to broaden the New Jack Swing style. This was going to give it a dimension that it hadn’t had yet. It was a different kind of material. He was watering at the mouth to do something a little different.

So, when we talked about it, he said, “You know what else we need for this record?” I said, “We need a duet like Alexander O’Neal and Cherrelle's ‘Never Knew Love Like This,' or like the Marvin and Tammi thing.” And he said, “We do, we do.” I’ll never forget when we were working on different things and I went home from one of the sessions — it was the weekend and I came back that Monday — and he had started plugging up and doing some ideas for the current track we were working on. I said, “Teddy, I’ve found a hook for the duet thing.” I sang the hook to him and he started playing the chord behind it. After he had that hook and everything, he played it and structured the track. Right there that day, I wrote the lyrics to it. Then, Mysti and I started laying a rough vocal on it, and we nailed it. When we finished it, Teddy called Gene in and played it for him. Gene was listening to it and he looked at me and said, “Man, you want a hit, don’t you?” He was blown away. So, it started taking place, and it just kept getting better and better from there.

JK: Now, you’ve done two solo albums of your own. The first one was 360 Degrees and this new one is actually called Solo. Did you take a conscious break from music for awhile, or have you been doing it all along?

CJ: I didn’t take a break. After the last Deja album, the group discontinued. Virgin dropped us from the label. So, I started doing independent production, remixes, and things like that. Then, an engineering partner of mine and I collaborated. We actually brought the group the Baha Men from the Bahamas and did their first album.

JK: Oh, wow, I didn’t know that.

CJ: Their first album was a more traditional Bahamian-sounding album, with the junkanoo rhythms of the island. That was a great departure from what I had always done, and it was very interesting to get into a different style of music. The album actually got in a movie called My Father the Hero, a Disney movie. After that, I was writing a lot and trying to produce a couple of acts; maybe get a couple of acts that I was working with recording deals. I came close, but didn’t quite get them signed. Each time, it was between them and another act. Also, I was trying to get a solo deal myself. I came real close with Atlantic, but when it came down, it was between me and one other artist they were gonna choose, and they chose the other artist. I asked who it was and Kevin Woodley told me that it was Mic Murphy from The System. I said, “Well, I know Mic and he’s a great guy, so I don’t feel bad losing out to him. He’s my boy and I love him.

In the '90s, everything really changed. It just seemed like I couldn’t get anything going through record labels anymore, because they weren’t interested in signing acts unless you were in your early twenties and doing the flavor of the month stuff. I really didn’t have interest in doing that. That wasn’t my bag and I wasn’t going to try to imitate it, either —because I respect their music just as much as they respect mine: I’m not gonna go out here and try to have my pants hanging off my butt trying to act like one of them, just because they sell records doing it. I can’t be what I’m not.

So, it was a slow period. And, I was married then and had a little boy in ’93. He’s getting ready to go to college next year. I still did live dates — played with corporate bands, and just kept singing and playing live in clubs — and kept writing. At the end of the '90s, I updated my equipment to digital. The first track that I wrote when I got it and recorded was the song called “Is It?” When I finished and mixed it, it felt better than anything I had done in a long time. I heard it and said, “This is the beginning of a record for me.” The following song I did was a track called “Someone Like You," a ballad. I did that and said, “Wow, this is going to be that Curt Jones record that I wasn’t able to get signed. I don’t know who’s going to sign it or what’s going to happen with it,” but at that point in time I wasn’t concerned with that. I wasn't even thinking about record labels. I decided just to do the record the way that I know a record by me should be done. Like, "I make my own rules. It’s my record, my rules. I don’t care if it doesn’t follow the record company’s rules, or radio’s or whatever." I had no idea what was going to happen; but by the time I’d finished it, a new day had come. All of a sudden, there was CD Baby, and you could release your own stuff on the Internet. I had no idea that was going to happen when I was doing the record. To tell you the truth, if I had needed to know what was going to happen in order to do the record, the record probably would have never happened.

I just said to myself, “The reason that I’m doing this record is because I’m doing it the way I’m going out and playing music. I go out and do it for the reasons that got me into it, because I love to do it.” So that’s it.

JK: And that comes through in the music. The songs you mentioned, “Is It?” and “Someone Like You” are from the 360 Degrees CD. On that album you had some cool collaborators as well. For instance, Curtis King sang with you on one of those songs. So I’m just curious — because I have my own opinion, but would you say there's a difference between this new project, Solo, and the first one, 360 Degrees?

CJ: Yeah, I’ve noticed a difference. I picked up where I left off, but I didn’t approach it trying to do the same thing I did on 360. Where I was in my writing and what I was approaching, things were starting to come about that were approached totally differently. Like on 360, all of the songs except for two were done on keyboard bass. When you do all keyboard stuff it has a pretty clean sound, because there’s very little analog on there to bring any noise. It had a sound for those songs that was right for those songs. But some of the stuff that was coming about with Solo had a whole different kind of energy. Some of it was a little funkier, a little edgier. And I had a lot more real bass on this record.

JK: Right. Now, since this is a two-CD set, is there a method to how that was done? Was it something where you say, okay, "One CD is this kind of vibe and the other CD is this other kind of vibe"? Or was it just because you had so many good songs that you just had to put it out as a double CD?

CJ: I really wasn’t planning on a double CD. I was just writing songs. Because a lot of this stuff is stuff that’s capturing a lot of that era of my life, what I went through: relationships, breakups; whatever it be. In the first album, 360, the song “Full Circle” was a song that was pretty much written in tribute to my ex-wife and I, because we were parting ways and we were about to have a divorce. But the way we parted was very amicable and we’re still very good friends, and that song kind of painted that: you kind of get the feeling that you can understand how it is between us. I want nothing but the best for her and happiness. So a lot of these songs come from the heart and they come from where I’m at and where I was at that time. I wasn’t planning on a double CD, I was just writing a lot of songs and they kept coming one after another and it was feeling really great. By the time I got done, there were about 17 songs.

Then, I had the idea of the intro and the outro. I realized, "I've got way more music than’ll fit on one CD.” So I started trying to think about what would I cut out to make it fit on one CD, in 80 minutes. The more and more I thought about it, the more difficult it became. I came to the conclusion that I couldn't cut anything out, because all of this is one step after another in that era of where I was at. Everything about these records that I’m doing now has nothing to do with trying to please a record label or radio station, it’s all about putting the music out that I feel. It’s kind of the soundtrack of my life. These songs belong together, and I can’t split the whole thing up and expect the album to paint the picture that it would if all the songs were there.

JK: It’s interesting when you talk about the timing and time limitations of one CD, because one thing that crossed my mind is that, if you were, say, a pop radio or urban contemporary act, you could fit 17 songs on one CD because they would all probably be three minutes or less. That seems to be the trend these days. But obviously with the material you’re doing, it’s songs that you take their time to get the message across and have great things like an organ solo — more like a live music setting, because you can have your breakdowns, you can have time to build up the verse and chorus and that, and not just go back and forth between two A-B patterns. That's what I think has a lot of appeal in this Solo two-CD set, especially for fans of your work with Aurra and Slave. It kind of goes back to those authentic, full-bodied arrangements. I think that Disc Two is what I found myself listening to repeatedly, because from the first song on that disc, “Don’t Say You Want It,” the music kicks it in with a really grabbing refrain and very meaty rhythmic structure. And then even listening to “Maybe It’s Love," on the softer side—it seems to really go through a variety of moods, but yet it seems like there is a lyrical consistency to a lot of the songs. You can kind of put them together and make maybe a storyline out of them.

CJ: One of the reasons why I had to keep all of the songs together was because it covers an era of my life that, if I had only kept the beginning part of what I started, the whole record would have been very dark. I had come out of a four-year relationship with a woman I was in love with in the beginning of the decade. Some of those songs were from what she made me feel. Then the breakup came in the midst of this album. I was working a job, and then I started getting back into finishing the record and getting back on to writing more stuff for the record. And in ’07 as I was in the midst of writing — I’ll never forget, I was recording “King of Broken Hearts," I started talking with this girl whom I started seeing, Sue Ann Carwell. She sang backup. She’s one of the most amazing vocalists in the industry; one of the most under-sung people. We went together for about a year, and when I was going out there spending time with her, it started inspiring songs like “Never Gonna Give You Up” and “Maybe It’s Love” and things that brought a lighter and more hopeful side to love, as opposed to “November Tears," which was dark. So it was a full contrast, and it covered a period out of one breakup into clearing myself out and then finding another love situation, from dark to light again.

JK: Are there any cast members from the time that you were with Aurra and Slave that you still keep in touch with or that you work with on occasion?

CJ: Oh, yeah. I haven’t talked to Jennifer Ivory in years, but I just saw Phil Fields, the keyboard player, and Ray Jackson up at the jam session I did on Thursday nights. They’re always up there, and we jam together. And my current drummer, Kevin Moore, he was the drummer on the Make Up Your Mind album, as well as Aurra's touring drummer. Then, I was on the phone for hours at a time with Steve Arrington and Cedell Carter. When Mark passed away, I got a chance to talk to everybody. We were all kind of mourning.

JK: Well, he definitely created quite a legacy, so he’ll be living on in a lot of ways. Well, this has been great, man, I really appreciate it. It’s really been a pleasure for me and I hope for you. I really enjoyed learning about you and the music. And as you would say, continued peace and blessings, right?

CJ: Oh, absolutely. Listen, you impressed me—you remembered some things that I forgot.

JK: Oh, really? Great! Good luck on that gig, I hope it goes great.

CJ: Thank you, my friend. I’ll talk to you soon.

About the Writer
Justin Kantor is a freelance music journalist with published works in Wax Poetics and the All-Music Guide. A graduate of Berklee College of Music's Business and Management program, he regularly writes liner notes for reissue labels.
  
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