In an impressive career spanning more than four decades, Marlon L. McClain (also known as “The Magician”) has produced, arranged, performed on, or written songs for artists including Kenny G., En Vogue, Toni Braxton,George Clinton, George Benson, Ronnie Laws, Jeff Lorber, Swing Out Sister,Brandy, Maurice White, Tower of Power, and Joan Baez, resulting in his name having been associated with records that have sold a combined more than 50 million copies worldwide.
Getting his major break as the leader and guitarist for Portland,Oregon-based Pleasure, which was known for being a risk-taking,horn-driven band that often brought jazz overtones to its funk/soulfoundation, McClain helped lead the band to a Top Ten Billboard R&B hitwith “Glide,” Pleasure’s biggest hit.
In1981, McClain released his first solo record, Changes, on Fantasy Records, before coming a well-sought producer and songwriter. It would be nearly thirty years, in 2010, when he released the follow-up album, TBD (Mac Man Music / Lucky Records).
Now he is preparing the release of his third solo album, TBC (To BeContinued), also on Mac Man Music / Lucky Records.
Written and produced by McClain, and featuring performances by Al Turner(bass), Soul Persona. (drum programming, keys), Thomas McElroy (keys,percussion), Jeff Lorber (keys), Ken Sato (drum programming), and CurtisSalgado (harmonica), the nine-track album doesn’t miss a beat, picking up where TBD left off, while still staying true to the roots of Changes.
A fusion of jazz, funk, and rock, TBC opens with the steamy “Me & You,” abona-fide jazz-funk late-night booty-shaker, while “Positivity” makes yousweat with its sweaty groove and soothing vocals.
“Radiation Blues” finds the album getting into some greasy, powerfulblues-rock. And “Where Are You” displays McClain’s ability to get tender,without losing the energy and groove muscle behind his songwriting.
“Step Into The Light” is another get-out-of-your-seat-and-shake-it dancenumbers, “Tokyo Time” is all blues and jazz sitting in perfect harmony,and album closer “You Know” brings the R&B to the party.
For an artist that has produced and written some of the biggest names invarious genres, McClain’s subtle, yet earnest detail to songwriting andproduction shows on TBC, offering up a collection of songs that pay homageto their respective roots, while also sounding fresh and current,something McClain has always been ahead of his time on.
Here is a collection of songs that undoubtedly prove why “The Magician”earned his moniker, and that the years between solo records hasn’tlessened his skills or passion, just helped him find his desire once againto create uplifting, moving records that make you want to dance and feel. And, feeling is what McClain’s music is all about.
McClain says TBC is a continuation of me letting music out from my heart and soul, it is also a reflection of the artists that influenced me in my early days like, James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, Chicago & Johnny Guitar Watson, with a little twist of the here and now.
Marlon McClain & Nu Shooz- 2016