With the splendid news that Grammy-nominated guitarist Doc Powell will be touring 2023 through 2024 it seems entirely appropriate to take a deeper dive into an artist whose music totally exemplifies what contemporary jazz should be all about. Indeed the trademark easy grooving style that Powell has made his own marks him out as the real contemporary jazz deal with a case in point being the sumptuous ‘Let Go’ that he co-wrote with Barry Eastmond and which can be found on his 2006 self-titled CD. It was right up there with the best the genre has ever produced yet, truth to tell, Powell’s artistry can be found both far and wide. As musical director to the legendary Wilson Pickett, to a stint with Luther Vandross and his group, the B. B. &Q, Powell has rubbed shoulders with the best. He has lent his distinctive guitar sound to recordings from artists such as Anita Baker, Aretha Franklin, Quincy Jones, Teddy Pendergrass, Vanessa Williams, Chaka Khan and Smokey Robinson.
His 2016 CD ‘This Is Soul’ was notable for many things and not least the infectiously shuffling title cut and the just as good is ‘Love On Top’. Produced by the award winning Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis ‘This Is Soul’ was a collection that brought together the heart and soul of some of the best music from the present and the past.
Fast forwarding two more years to the single, ‘Steppin Out’ and Powell was in the rarefied company of Snarky Puppy keyboard player Shaun Martin, flautist Althea Rene and sax player Kelley O’Neal for a track that was a little more dance orientated than his earlier work and which opened him up to a whole new audience.
Yet in term of personal favorites it is impossible to look beyond the sumptuous ‘Sunday Mornin’ from his 1996 project ‘Laid Back’. With Kirk Whalum on sax and Lori Perry on vocals it was also included on his 2010 long player ‘For Old Times Sake’ and the excellent 1996 compilation from Beechwood Music ‘JazzFusions Four’.