Diamond Steele
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Diamond Steele

Westland, Michigan, United States | MAJOR

Westland, Michigan, United States | MAJOR
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"Artist Interview"

Diamond Steele
Jazz Ensemble

News & Reviews
Diamond Steele’s
"Lavish Living"



Artist Interview by: Jim Cohen

February 2011 - Motor City Battle of the bands: It could be argued that the cohesiveness that has become the trademark of Diamond Steele’s on stage presence is, in part, the epitome of the offstage friendships that exists between these five guys, starting with the leader of the group, Marcus A. Allen Sr. These five guys are truly a new breed of jazz musicians.
With their brand new CD, "Lavish Living," Diamond Steele has put their talents on display for the entire world to hear and criticize. But after just one listen to their CD leaves very little to criticize, because it seems as though these guys got it right the first time out of the gate, as their music is the epitome of the old-school philosophical phrase, "Keep it simple."

First, the cohesiveness of their sound is in step with the current trends of today’s modern jazz music and the jazz lover’s appetite for their music, as they bring fire and energy to bear on all seven tracks of this CD. According to Marcus Sr., who says: “Whenever we aren’t busy rehearsing or out performing somewhere we are usually found enjoying on another’s company at a pre-planned outing, or playing basketball, or just watching the games together on the television.”

Diamond Steele is the type of group that is indicative of The Three Musketeers model, “All for one, and one for all.” Willie Davis, Diamond Steele’s drummer, is always quick to mention that, “We (The members of the band) are like the brothers I’ve always wanted, but never had.” These little outings, enjoyed by this band, allows them the time they need to bond, as they can be found talking about anything from “music” to the forbidden topics of discussion “religion or politics”. Though Diamond Steele is comfortable performing in smaller venues, it is quite evident to even the simplest of observers that an energetic and professional sounding group like Diamond Steele belongs on the big stage, right alongside of the big names in jazz today.

To be a group just coming out for their first time, Diamond Steele makes it appears as though they have been in the music business for twenty years. Their CD, “Lavish Living” is something that can only be followed up by an even greater show of their talent, as they can already be heard talking about their next project. The distinctive Diamond Steele sound will mean little adjustment for the musical ears of the jazz lovers everywhere. This is a fresh group that lets it be known that they have a lot to prove, as well as bring a jam-session style of playing to their new CD, with a "No Holds Barred" type of freestyle playing.

Q.) MetroTimes: This is your first CD, and I realize that the music business is new to you, so how do you prepare yourself for a new and fresh project without losing the signature sound of Diamond Steele? How do you think that you guys will pull it off?

A.) Marcus A. Allen Sr.: Well, first of all, we believe in the idea of practice and woodshedding and bring what we know to the table and sharing it as we have done for years. We don’t try to overwork a project, if it doesn't fit then we simply scratch it and move on to the next project, but our focus is never about trying copy our own sound, because it takes from the originality.

Q.) MetroTimes: How did the tunes on your new CD come together for you guys?

A.) Marcus A. Allen Sr.: Some of the tunes started out as a jam session, and from there, depending on if we liked the tune or not, we make what I like to call a road map, so that we can find our way through the tunes. At others times I might find a melody that sounds so good, like with Lavish Living, and then Marcus Jr. will make chords around that melody. We don’t set a goal to let everyone make a tune, like it is in some bands, we just allow our talents to go to work for us, I mean, after all, we freestyle so much that giving a tune a rhythm and the freedom to design its own place has become common place for us. If any particular tune passes our rigorous policy and it hangs around then we usually end up putting it into the lineup for our next project. Right now we have about twenty tunes, or more ready to be recorded. This is the bread and butter of our ensemble, and it is something I wish most people could really see and experience for themselves, this way they will know how a tune comes together. These same musical traits are what you see whenever you see Diamond Steele in concert!

Q.) MetroTimes: Sounds exciting, but is there anything you wished that you could have done on this project a little differently? What do you think about your CD as a whole?

A.) Willie Davis: I think above any and everything that the project really complements itself. No one tune seems to be away and distant from the other, you know going from one side of a particular spectrum to another one altogether different. I can’t even say that we have even attempted to push the envelope making these tunes; because we were so use to playing them that they came naturally as they went on wax.
The only thing we regret is having someone lay down some singing on this project, perhaps someone like Randy Crawford or Anita Baker, seeing as how the latter of the two lives right here in our hometown. But overall, I think that it (being in the studio) was a memorable experience that had us all on sort of a high for a while, and I think all of the fellas are proud of how the project turned out.

Q.) MetroTimes: What do you strive for in your music?

A.) Marcus A. Allen Jr.: Well if you were to read our bio, then you would know that we strive for ”Musical Performing Excellence” yet I think we all just strives to give our best each and every time we pick up our instruments and start practicing and or performing.

Q.) MetroTimes: Impressive, but if I’m not mistaken! Gerard Evans, your sax man is the newest member of your group, have you guys ever worked with him before now?

A.) Marcus A. Allen Sr.: Yes he is the baby of the bunch, but only in the sense of being the newest member, but he is in no wise new to the jazz world. Though I have never worked with Gerard before, I find it to be our lost. We must have interviewed as many as twelve different sax players before finally stumbling upon him. Not to sound cheesy, but "G" has been the perfect addition to the group, and there is nothing better than to hear “G” play on the outside of the chord progression, and it's something that he does extremely well. His style of playing helps give character to the style of music we are playing as well. And leave it to "G" “say and he'll tell you that” he's just as mad as we are because he hadn't gotten with us sooner. It’s no telling how far we could have gone, or how much sooner even!

Q.) MetroTimes: Tell us more about your love for the church and how, if at all it might have interfered with this new project.

A.) Leslie Morgan Jr.: The project is what it is Bob, but as far as church is concerned I’m a religious man, but I know where things lie, I mean, God gave all of us talents and he meant for us to use them, both for uplifting God and providing for our families in this world.

Q.) MetroTimes: Well I’ve never heard it quite put that way, but I’d have to agree with you, and I must say that you used that talent well when it came to laying down the bass on this project. So when we you all get started on that new project, and if so, do you have a name for it already?

A.) Willie Davis: Probably sometime this year, and yes, as a matter of fact we have already named it.

Q.) MetroTimes: Great! Can I get the lowdown on what it might be? I mean Willie, you always set the tone for the band’s image, so what is it, or do I have to wait too?

A.) Willie Davis: I'd love to tell you, but then that would just “letting the cat out of the bag” now wouldn’t it Bob? We've been approached by many people trying to discover that same exact thing, but then they might not like the name and could probably be turned off from going out to purchase it when it comes out. But if they really what to know before the rest of the world then just visit our website and find out, because we usually post our releases weeks prior to them being released.

Q.) MetroTimes: Will you guys be sticking with your jazz format?

A.) Willie Davis: You bet, we are a jazz ensemble, and we’re comfortable with the idea of playing jazz music. Marcus Jr. has the tendency to crossover probably before the rest of us, because he gives a lot of attention to R&B, something that he has always done.

Q.) MetroTimes: Besides Marcus Jr., do any of you have kids that are trying to follow in your musical footsteps?

A.) Leslie Morgan Jr.: Two of my children (boy and girl) play a little piano. My son has decided to pick up the bass and my daughter is, believe it or not, a drummer of all things.

Q.) MetroTimes: Well that’s a plus. It’s been nice talking to you gentlemen. But what one word would you all use to describe Diamond Steele, something that sums up the musical abilities of Diamond Steele?

A.) Everyone: Woodshedding! Keep on woodshedding!

Q.) MetroTimes: Well I enjoyed listening to the "Lavish Living," CD and I must say, I can’t wait to hear you guy’s perform this project live.

- Jim Cohen -
MetroTimes - MetroTimes


Discography

CD's include:

A.) Late Bloomer

1. Late Bloomer
2. West 57th
3. Jammin-N-Detroit
4. I Decide
5. Fire of Desire
6. My Line
7. I think I Love You
8. No One Knows
9. Lady Doll
10. Monster's Groove
11. Easystreet

B.) Lavish Living

1. Alone Tonight
2. Blue Ride
3. Lavish Living
4. Tip Toe
5. Hey Girl
6. Ms. Davenport
7. The Roar

Photos

Bio

- Bio-

MusicMe Production
Diamond Steele
Bus: 734-469-2134
alexanderdemarcus1@gmail.com
http://www.diamondsteele.net

Mission Statement

“To Achieve Musical Performance Excellence”

Diamond Steele is led by the musical competence of Marcus A. Allen Sr. Mr. Allen is both a trumpet virtuoso and composer from Detroit. Diamond Steele has been playing professionally throughout the Metro Detroit area for many years. Under Mr. Allen’s leadership Diamond Steele has blossomed, into a very accomplished and professional musical recording group.

Diamond Steele was discovered by A&R Rep. Conrad DiManche in 2011, and they are presently in negotiations for contract with Sony Records. Diamond Steele just released their second CD entitled "Lavish Living".

Because of the depth, talent and versatility of this group it is easy to see why they have the ability to play nearly any style of music they choose with ease, yet their collective love for jazz music is the one and only reason why they have made jazz their musical genre of choice. It is the belief of this group that playing jazz also keeps them closer to their musical heritage, as well as allowing them the opportunity to become much more proficient musicians overall.

Diamond Steele is currently a member of A&R Select, ReverbNation, Island Def Jam Records, and the National Musicians Union. You can also visit them at www.diamondsteele.net, MySpace, and Facebook. Our CD “Lavish Living” is now on sale at Def Jam Records, amazon.com, iTunes, LastFM, and a number of other reputable musical distribution channels which continue to grow daily.

Band Members:
Marcus Anthony Allen Sr. was born in Detroit, Michigan on October 19, 1960 and he has been playing the trumpet since his freshman year of high school. He quickly progressed on the trumpet, and after only three short months of studies he found himself performing before large audiences, mostly in the local night clubs throughout metro Detroit. As a young student, Mr. Allen competed musically on the highest level, and because of his fast learning pace he quickly gained recognition as an up and coming solo artist. Mr. Allen continued to play professionally for nearly twenty-eight years before forming Diamond Steele. Overall, he has spent a total of thirty-one years entertaining publicly.
After completing high school Mr. Allen continued performing locally around Detroit with such groups as: The Righteous Players, Ruff as Us, the Dramatics, and Earth’s Nature. In 1979 he won the state’s talent competition with his horn section; Three the Hard Way. Later that same year he was invited to perform behind the groups; Brick, the Dazz Band and Michael Jackson in Los Angles, CA., but because of his desire for greater development in the study of music, and his inability to afford the much desired lessons, he regretfully declined these promising invitations and decided rather to enlist in the U.S. Army.
His desire for musical growth was his single greatest reason for enlisting in the military. While in the military, Mr. Allen achieved his primal objective, as he had the wondrous opportunity to study music as well as travel around the world with the army band. He also had the pleasure of meeting and performing for many dignitaries. In all, Mr. Allen has had the distinct pleasure of performing for both presidents and kings.
During his twelve year stint in the military, Mr. Allen studied jazz and classical harmony, theory and music history through the Army School of Music in Norfolk, Virginia. He excelled in music composition, arranging and scoring, so much so that his company commander awarded him three army accommodation medals because of his skills. Mr. Allen also became proficient on both the oboe and piano during his time in the military. On August 29, 1992 he left the military and returned home to Detroit to further pursue his musical career. It was during this period that he received personal tutorage on the trumpet from one of Detroit’s most prominent jazz musician, trumpeters, Marcus Belgrave.
Mr. Allen also received numerous informal instructions from saxophonist and recording artist Larry Smith, Marcus Belgrave and the late Dr. Teddy Harris. He accredits most of his musical prowess, especially where his improvisational skills are concerned, to these three jazz giants from Detroit. He also gives credit to his countless performances with many of Detroit’s best and brightest jazz musicians.
Over the years, Mr. Allen has had the pleasure of sharing the stage with such prominent jazz figures as; Dwight Adams, Dr. Harold McKinney, Darren McKinney, and recording artist (saxophonist extraordinaire) James Carter. After completing his studies in jazz, he immediately began studying classical trumpeting under the guidance of Robert Tinsel, a former principal trumpeter for the DSO (Detroit Symphony Orchestra). After completing his classical studies, he decided to turn p