What is Maxwell: Blacksummers’ Night!

So the tour buses have been unpacked and (hopefully only for the moment) the instruments are all in cases.  Maxwell just wrapped up the fall leg of his Blacksummers’ night tour which has been receiving rave reviews and I think it’s about time you heard mine.  SU-PERB!!!  In fact, so nice, I saw it twice.  That’s right, while in Atlanta a few weeks ago, I took a break from the studio and caught the Phillips Arena show.  A week later, I saw it again in Dallas at American Airlines Arena.. Un huh, Maxwell is packing out arenas with this show..  Anyway, let me start off by mentioning BLACKsummers’ night the album.  Also, let me first admit that I’m a Maxwell neophyte, I just never really got into the Maxwell movement… well, I did finally buy a previously owned copy 0f Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite at the c.d. trader around the corner, I think it still has the $4.99 sticker on it.. uhh, that was about two years ago.  I think the reason for my apprehension has always been that neo-soul label (I’ll expound later).  So anyway, one day as we were at my parents house visiting, Kanye pulls out the disc.. I said Kanye pulls out the disc… well that might not sound peculiar to you, but it does to me. Kanye? …..listening to Maxwell?  At that point it definitely warranted a listen, we even watched the bonus d.v.d.  Let me go on record right now by say ing that this is the best sounding r&b album (notice I didn’t say neo-soul) that I’ve heard in a lonnnnng time.  Let me clarify.  As a songwriter, I usually judge songs by they’re “wow!! I wish I had written that” factor, and with the exception of two or three, I must admit that the song writing is not really knocking me over..  But this album just sounds and feels so damn good.

Maxwell first brought together a cast of phenomenal musicians, complete with horns (shout out to fellow texan and my homie Chris Dave on drums) , we’ll call them a band (lol) that play on every song throughout the album which lends to some incredible continuity from cut to cut.  In this day, this is almost unheard of in this genre.  Not only are we talking “real instruments”, but the same “real instruments” on every song.  Its like being at the show is what I’m trying to say.  The sound is just so warm and authentic.  All this being said, after I heard the tour was coming through town, while I was in Atlanta working, there was just no way I was going to miss it, especially since my man Common was also on the bill, who by the way was featuring Bilal on vocals, and then Chrissette Michelle was opening up, ah come on now!  Now mind you, at the same time I’m reading reviews that are saying things like “… the sound that defined the neo-soul genre.” Oh yeah, my problem with the “neo-soul” tag (and the movement itself for that matter).  Neo- by definition means “a new or revived form of” and common since will tell you that you ain’t gotta revive nothin that ain’t dead. Soul and rhythm & blues is what inspired The Beatles as well as the Rolling Stones.  It is reverenced and coveted the world over.  It’s BIG!! I never understood why an artist would ever relegate him or herself to the small box that neo-soul is. You won’t get an argument from me that artist like Erykah Badu and Jill Scott aren’t undeniable but in my opinion it’s because they have creative talents that far superceded the confines of that small box.  Nonetheless, if Maxwell really ever was a neo-soul artist, from what I saw and heard, he’s graduated.  I witnessed a classic soul singer.  Down to the presentation, this was Marvin Gaye, Jackie Wilson, and Otis Redding reincarnated.  Nope, that little bitty neo-soul box can no longer hold this cat.  This was definitely a show for the ages.


2 Responses to “What is Maxwell: Blacksummers’ Night!”

  1. November 10, 2009 at 1:22 PM

    Man you took the words out of my mouth…
    I saw them in Bmore. Absolutely amazing.

    Further proof of their classic status…I haven’t stopped listening to the album. It has so many nuances that are gradually revealed. For instance, lately I’ve been hearing the acoustic guitar in there a lot…it’s in the background but it (and the organ) are the glue that gives the tracks that warm funk. It’s such an inspirational record…

    And the thing that makes me happiest is that it’s getting radioplay. I mean kids are being exposed to real instruments…that in and of itself is HUGE. These aren’t loops…they’re not samples and drum tracks…it’s real. Hopefully people will see the response maxwell is getting and react accordingly…more electronic sounding stuff has its place, but that warm organic soul will forever be king.

    It’s just good to know other people are as enthralled w/ the record, lol.

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