Randy Muller Boom Chang Bang - Welcome To My Life
Randy Muller has provided the soundtrack to our lives. For over four decades the multi instrumentalist/songwriter/producer has been at the helm of classic soul and funk hits by the likes of Brass Construction, Skyy, Raphael Cameron, Charles Earland and more. The master of reinvention, Randy surprised fans by stepping into a jazzy alter-ego, Boom Chang Bang and releasing a smooth jazz album a decade ago. The intervening years has seen various funk, dance techno and even afro beat projects (Brooklyn Soul Biscuits, Solodinjgo, Carolyn Harding). Now Boom Chang Bang is back, with a twist. His new album, Welcome To My Life, is a kaleidoscopic glimpse into Randy’s vast musical world, spanning classic Brazilian bossa, contemporary smooth-jazz, jazz-funk, to raw soulful boogie which harkens back to some of his halcyon recordings in the late ’70’s and early ’80’s. Welcome To My Life is testimony that Muller retains his place as a music trailblazer. In a world that’s increasingly niche, Randy Muller Boom Chang Bang’s long awaited follow-up dares to embrace a myriad of moods, eras and genres.
“The first Boom Chang Bang album, Groovin’ U, was released in 2007. And the reception has been amazing,” Randy says. “In fact, Smoothjazz.com referred to the album as ‘without a doubt, one of the best independent releases of 2007. More than 10 years on, the popularity of that album continues to grow, so I knew I want to do a follow up. I just didn’t know it would take this long”
Of the old school feel of feel of the album, Randy states: “It’s true, some of the tracks have that 70s/80s vibe. This was the period when a lot was going on in terms of musical progression and I was lucky enough to be in the thick of it all. Artists such as Stevie Wonder and Roy Ayers are good examples of this evolution. My work with Skyy, Brass Construction and Charles Earland which tried to push boundaries too, I would like to think, is no exception.”
But Welcome To My Life is not a nostalgic retread down jazz-funk memory lane.
“It’s intended to be a glimpse into my musical DNA; my musical life, going back to my days in British Guiana,” explains Randy. “I was captivated by the lush string sounds of Mantovani, Bert Kaempfert and his orchestra, Percy Faith’s silky orchestrations and later the smokey cool of Stan Getz and Gilberto’s “Girl from Ipanema”. This arrived in our home via the family’s living room vacuum tube Grundig radio by day and a distant-sounding, crackling AM transistor radio by night,” Randy says. “Then, we land firmly in the present with the sonic state-of-the-art dance grooves on the album, which I’m probably better known for.”
The album features a stellar cast of NY’s finest musicians: Raheim Le Blanc (GQ/”Disco Nights), Ron Richardson (Phyllis Hyman/RoyAyres/Will Downing), Nikki Rios, Shelia Slappy, Carolyn Harding (Movin’ On/ Al Mac Dowell), drummer-Bernie Davis , Allison Foster (Stevie Wonder, Bobby Brown, Meli’sa Morgan, Chrisette Michelle, NEYO) Charles Daugherty, guitarist Larry Marsden, Shareef Clayton (Macy Gray, Stevie Wonder, The Roots, Michael McDonald), among others.
The first single, “Joy In The Rain”, a beatific slice of summery soul featuring solo star Angela Johnson on lead vocals, has proved extremely popular in the UK. The feel good factor stays front and center with the funky “Groovin’ U”, the unashamed party chant, “Booty Bump” and “What Are We Gonna Do”, which wouldn’t have sounded amiss on a Donald Byrd/Blackbyrds album. The title track “Welcome To My Life”, spotlights Muller’s jazzy chops on Fender Rhodes juxtaposed with a catchy flute motif. The chilled bossa lilt of “Brazilian Nights”, is a gorgeous slice of down tempo magic and “Something Simple” keeps the laid back tropical feel, with Muller’s flute playing front and center.
“Pimms and Lemonade” and “Summer Luv” just reminds me of summertime in London,” Randy, a part time anglophile confesses. “When you put it all together, hopefully you have an album that not only makes sense but is interesting and diverse.”
A masterful songwriter with a trove of hits and several hundred recorded tunes under his belt, Randy has never let his love of a groove overshadow his knack of crafting an infectious melody over the top. This combination is no more evident than with “So Happy”, featuring GQ vocalist Raheim Le Blanc. It stays logged in the brain after just one play.
The sultry down tempo offerings on the album give us a chance to catch our breath. “Nice And Slow” is topped with a sinuous, sensual flute solo. It’s a post party/late night jazz funk stroll that you could imagine Dr. Dre sampling back in the day. “Over And Over” is a dose of warm, lazy Sunday morning soul.
There’s more: The emotive ballad “I Cry”, a cheeky urban jazzy lowdown funk, “Slip N Slide”, and the boho R&B feel of, “Lover To Lover”, featuring vocalist Nikki Rios. In fact, this is an unmissable album brimming with grooves, moods, jazz and a whole lot of soul.
“If you’re only after radio play, things can get formulaic,” says Randy. “In recent years, that seems to have influenced the music we consume, especially in the commercial realm. That’s why I wanted to do an album that had a number of different styles; Something out of the box. This collection is not about niche narrowcasting. It’s reflective of the type of diversity we as a global society should naturally embrace.”
“In the late 60s- and into the 70s, many major influences shaped my musical vocabulary,” Randy expounds. “James Brown, Maceo Parker, Mongo Santamaria, Mandrill, Kool and the Gang, Motown, Chick Corea, Ramsey Lewis, Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis, Herbie Mann. I could go on and on. “Hubert Laws and the whole Creed Taylor CTI roster of artists and the amazing lush arrangements of Don Sebesky were huge influences,” he adds. “This album is intended to be a delicious manifestation ...part one of a 360 degree representation of all this.
Welcome To My Life!”