Within this circle is magic. Gravity 180, three master musicians: Clydene Jackson, vocals/keyboards, Harold Payne, vocals/guitar, and percussionist Oliver C. Brown. On their new eponymous CD the band distills their sterling song craft and illuminated performances into a stunning suite of songs that honors the significance of a shared history as it redefines their signature sound. Melodic pop is framed with classic soul; global grooves are polished by smooth jazz with Jackson and Payne’s patented vocal blend creating what one inspired scribe dubbed “sandpaper and silk.” Imaginative wordsmith Harold Payne describes the band’s genre as “Noomer Music” -- new music, by baby boomers, for everyone.
A brief history: Jackson and Payne met when both were solo performers in clubs on the Redondo Beach pier. As a team, their first gig was at The Tijuana Inn in Gardena, California where they invited Brown down to hear them. “I had just come off a national tour with Leo Sayer,” he recalls. “I didn’t want to work a club. I went down there and heard those songs and said, ‘Please, just let me in.’’’
Since that night, over twenty years ago, Gravity 180 has released a series of CD’s on both major and independent labels, launched tours from their home base in Los Angeles to Hawaii and Japan, and endeared themselves to a worldwide audience. All three members maintain separate career identities. Jackson is a first-call session singer for film soundtracks and recording projects including The Lion King, Superman Returns and American Gangster; Brown, an original member of KC and the Sunshine Band, has toured with artists ranging from Al Jarreau to Fleetwood Mac, and Payne, a solo artist, is a songwriter whose credits include Patti Labelle, Snoop Dogg, Rod Stewart and long time collaborator Bobby Womack. Instant recall is the touchstone when the three convene. “First off we’re family. We can read each other’s mind,” surmises Jackson. “Even though we do things individually, we’re always a part of one another.”
While the core of the band remains solidified, other family members also contribute. Brown's brother, Eddie Brown of the famed folk duo, "Joe and Eddie", is a frequent collaborator on songs with Payne and Jackson. Eddie and smooth jazz guitarist, Nils ("Pacific Coast Highway" and composer for the Showtime series, Weeds) are credited with co-producing Gravity 180's newest project. Nils adds his lustrous guitar and Payne, his husky, heartfelt vocals to an evocative reggae-tinged, "Moonlight On The Water.” Oliver’s potent percussion propels the conscious world grooves of "Standing On The Shoulders", and Jackson's soaring take on the soulful ballad, "Somewhere In My Heart" are among the highlights on the new tracks.
By updating their name from Gravity to Gravity 180, the trio confirms their legacy while noting the positive pulse of change. “A new name signifies a new turn,” says Payne. “But Gravity is still the force that holds everything together.”