Shades of Jade
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Shades of Jade

Kansas City, Missouri, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2010 | INDIE

Kansas City, Missouri, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2010
Band R&B Funk

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Music

Press


Make no mistake this is not smooth jazz, this is contemporary improvisational music that transcends boundaries and shatters genres. A most impressive release from a band whose musical stock is an arrow pointing straight up! - Brent Black


Shades of Jade is among Kansas City's many notable young jazz ensembles. This band differentiates itself with an invigorating blend of bop and R&B. - STEPHEN STEIGMAN & BILL BROWNLEE


Fingerprinted Memories, Pt. 1, the new album by Shades of Jade, makes good on the band's promise by melding the pleasing R&B groove of smooth jazz with post-bop sophistication. Anyone who listens to D'Angelo's Voodoo and the 1980s output of Miles Davis will feel right at home with the project. - Bill Brownlee


The music comes together with a leisurely, exotic feel. It's neo-soul, yes, but a version of it that has evolved from Kansas City's classic jazz traditions. - Larry Kopitnik


Inspired by Robert Glasper and Sean Jones, Shades of Jade is at the vanguard of the burgeoning youth movement on Kansas City's jazz scene. - Plastic Sax


Recent releases by Robert Glasper, Christian Scott and Esperanza Spalding are among the albums I've listened to most in 2012. When I attend performances by jazz musicians, however, I rarely hear anything that remotely resembles the sounds made by the trendsetting musicians of today. Most Kansas City-based artists work in styles that are steadfastly rooted in the '40s, '50s and '60s. I love that stuff, but I often pine for live performances of current jazz.

That's why I flipped my lid when bandleader Josh Williams introduced the second selection I heard Shades of Jade play at The Brick on August 11.

"According to Eddie (Moore), if you don't know who Robert Glasper is, you're living under a rock," Williams said.

As the quartet wound through a creative arrangement of Glasper's new song "Gonna Be Alright (F.T.B.)," I knew that everything was truly up to date in Kansas City. I also began kicking myself for not previously catching Shades of Jade. I'd heard three members of the quartet in other contexts plenty of times. Williams, trumpet and flugelhorn, works a lot. Bassist Dominique Sanders is one of the scene's young stars. Keyboardist Eddie Moore is often seen in conventional jazz bands and he plays an integral role in plenty of hip hop shows. Only drummer Julian Goff has flown under my radar.

Energetic and fearless, Shades of Jade reminds me of Diverse in 2009. There's no reason to believe that the members of Shades of Jade won't achieve a similar level of renown. - Plastic Sax


"Everybody in the band is writing and very well-rehearsed at the professional level. They have been working on this concert for over a year, and are seriously dedicated to the music." - Dawn DeBlaze


Kansas City Jazz fusion act, Shades of Jade have released a lead single for their upcoming LP, Fingerprint Memories Pt. 2. “That One” is an odd number. Truth told, “That One” treads the waters Adult Contemporary, but leans more heavily to the side of Neo-Soul.

That said, the influences are a strong, cerebral blend of Houston Fusion and late 80’s silky R&B of Sade and Bobby Caldwell. Both artists who have pulled heavily from vocal jazz themselves and in their heyday could sell a melody with a level of sincerity that many singers today would be terrified to attempt. Derrick Cunigan does not have that problem either. As songwriting is concerned, this is music for romance. Music that if not handled by a capable singer, could be construed as bland, but Cunigan, through force of will or joy, sells it. There are many types of songs in which sincerity can be detrimental. You can rap or rock for 25 years and never have to say something the audience is forced to believe. R&B has no such luxury and Shades of Jade are very aware of this.

It’s almost a cliche to point at Glasper and say “There. There he is!” But the man has become somewhat of a root language for young jazz artists: each speaking a regional dialect of the mother tongue, reinterpreting and expounding upon it as time and place permit. Slang from slang, you could say. While true to an extent, the statement sells short both sides of the exchange, and jazz, at its heart, is all about exchange and Shades of Jade understand the common currency of their individual pieces. The surface level appeal of inoffensive smoothness on “That One” is mitigated in the details of the musicianship, which reveal a greater depth than originally perceived. Perry Holiday II’s complicated, evolving drum lines and Desmond Mason’s wandering keyboard work add fresh dimensions to the song as it uncurls to its finale. At times, Holiday’s drums sound like bottled chaos, finding anywhere and everywhere within the groove to land a hit without giving himself entirely to clutter. Very solid work.

Judging from Fingerprint Memories Pt. 1, which hopped pretty happily through r&b, Jazz, and electronic without much trouble, “That One” can be no real indicator of Part 2 in its entirety. In the past, Shades Of Jade have loved to move freely through genres and this eclectic approach to modern jazz was much of the first installment’s charm. But, who knows? Maybe they have settled in to a different groove and have decided to give it a new run? Hard to tell. Questions aside, there is the promise of some very mature musicianship on Fingerprint Memories Pt. 2 and the lead single leaves me intrigued.

Listen to “That One” on Shades of Jade’s website - James P


There’s something in the water, and whatever it is it’s giving rise to a smooth, neo-soul tinged jazz/R&B renaissance. D’Angelo led the charge nationwide with Black Messiah, and Kendrick Lamar took what was laid down and rearranged it in To Pimp a Butterfly. Likewise, locally, a few bands are picking up on this shift and moving back through musical history to make what is old new again. The Phantastics and iLLPHONiCS are slowing down hip hop and jazz and infusing it with soul to create sounds that have that clear and smooth feel of a smoky club.
Joining these bands, Green Lady Lounge regulars, Shades of Jade, compose songs that have a sense of timelessness. The Kansas City based band leans more toward the jazz end of the spectrum than the aforementioned acts. Shades of Jade’s material is mostly instrumental–long strings of smooth horns and piano accompaniment held together by a soft percussion. Comparisons to Hermon Mehari or John Klemmer wouldn’t be unfounded.
That said, the band’s latest release, “That One,” shifts toward an R&B feel with its lush vocal melodies. In many ways, the song stays true to Shades of Jade’s cool jazz. But, in many ways, the song pushes into new territory. Part of the reason for this new feel is Derick Cunigan’s vocals. The local singer’s injects a bit of fire in the otherwise cool smoothness of the track.
This juxtaposition between the music’s smooth grooves and the vocals’ passionate unfurling does a lot to give “That One” a tension that snaps each part into place. Despite the lyrics’ unfettered male gaze, there seems to be a sincerity to the speaker that undercuts the traditional/patriarchal gender roles described in the song. Truly, Cunigan’s voice masterfully flips through a persona trying to woe back his lover without ever fully acquiescing into a sense of (un)deserved possession.
But to listen to “That One” and gripe over what the song means for feminism or the patriarchy in a general sense is to miss out on the song’s power. From the blue horn melodies that start the song to Cunigan’s stunning harmonies, “That One” unspools like a mellow brandy. Its aural warmth invites its listeners in and lets them linger through its meandering–a feat that is as hard to pull off as it is easy to listen to.
While Shades of Jade doesn’t have any shows booked at the moment, keep an eye on local jazz clubs. The Kansas City band puts on a show that is as sonically polished as their recordings but with a presence that only live music can instill into each note. Shades of Jade is an act to catch live, but until they next play out, their single “That One” will tide you over with its cool grooves. - Brian Clifton


Discography

Shades of Jade Live at the Blue Room EP- 2011

Where's my Tea (single) 2013

Fingerprinted Memories Pt I LP- 2013

Pup (single) 2015

That One (Single) 2015


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Bio

Born and nurtured in Kansas City by some of the best musicians it has to offer, the indie-R&B/Funk band Shades of Jade is on a mission to “break genre restrictions and touch its listeners“. From their original compositions, and progressive influences of the RH Factor, Robert Glasper Experiment, and Christian Scott Quintet, Shades of Jade continues to move music forward, hoping to establish their original music as new american standards.

Band Members