A new chapter has emerged in the musical life of James "Saxsmo" Gates in the form of a CD, notably entitled "It's Time". "It's Time" reflects the changes that have taken place in the life of Saxsmo as well as the change in attitude which can be heard throughout each track on this incredible CD. This focused and driven attitude can especially be heard on the songs "Unlimited Chances", "A Change Within", "It's Time", "I'll Write a Song For You", "I Know What God Has Done For Me"," Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now", "Genesis" and "I'd Rather".
"Unlimited Chances", written by Saxsmo, expresses his thankfulness to God for giving him another chance to live life and create music. During the process of recording this CD, Saxsmo was in a major car accident. His father cared for him for over two months, which allowed him to recover more quickly. This accident along with other events caused Saxsmo to realize how blessed he is to be on this earth and to be even more passionate in his resolve of completing "It's Time". When recording "Unlimited Chances", track #5, each musician (Weldon Hill, Billy Williams, & Michael Hawkins)collectively played with passion and emotion as if they'd all had the same experiences as Saxsmo.
"I'll Write a Song For You", track #4, arranged by Hannon "Juice" Lane, has a slightly different spin on it from the original. Once Saxsmo heard the phenomenal arrangement that Hannon had created, it opened his mind to an excellent idea. Saxsmo's late father was also an incredible saxophonist. While his father was living, Saxsmo shedded and performed with his father on numerous gigs. He remembered exactly how his father played and could play just like him. Saxsmo decided to include his father as a tribute to him on the song "I'll Write a Song For You". Parts of the song are played from the heart as only Saxsmo would and others are played just like his father would play. This song is truly enjoyable and is a pleasure to listen to.
"I'd Rather" track #7, a hit song recorded by Luther Vandross, is a song that Saxsmo wanted to record since first hearing it. Hannon "Juice" Lane did a hell of a job arranging this song as well. Saxsmo and Hannon were very excited about recording this song which included a vital instrumental section, live strings. The vamp out section of the song is particularly special to Saxsmo. When recording this portion of the song, Saxsmo had great difficulty in figuring out exactly what to play. After several attempts, God spoke to Saxsmo and said "Don't think about it. Play from your heart. I've got the rest." It was like magic! The notes immediately began to flow through Saxsmo's horn to create an amazing experience that can now be heard on this CD.
"Genesis (In the Beginning...),track #2, created by Ellis Tucker and Saxsmo was the first song created for this CD. Saxsmo heard this track from Hannon several years ago and instantly fell head over heels in love with it. Hannon and Saxsmo begged Ellis for the right to use this song and separate tracks for months. After Hannon and Saxsmo received the official O.K. from Ellis to use the track they excitedly began work on the song. Saxsmo especially loves this song because it reminds him of being a young boy, thinking of the awesome power of God in the creation of this world. Ellis created a marvelous track and I'm sure you'll agree.
"Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now", featuring the former music director for the late James Brown, Fred Wesley, has a very interesting story behind it(track #6). Saxsmo was driving home from teaching school, and heard the original when pulling into the "WaWa" gas station. He immediately began to laugh and holler and called his boy Hannon "Juice". Saxsmo excitedly told Hannon what he was listening to and told him that "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now" should be their next cover song. Hannon laughed and couldn't stop. He told Saxsmo that he'd always wanted to do the song because he knew the writers and people who were affiliated with the record company in Philadelphia. Hannon and Saxsmo began to work on the song that very day. While during a meeting in the studio, Saxmo told Hannon that they needed a national recording artist to participate on one of the songs. It was then decided that "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now" would be that song. Saxsmo suggested Fred Wesley and Hannon agreed. Hannon along with Saxsmo's other producer Bill McGee, collectively made the phone call that day. Fred Wesley responded by agreeing and a meeting was set in December of 2006. During the meeting, they agreed on calling Fred Wesley when they were ready to record. The recording took place during the summer of 2007 in Bill McGee's studio. Live strings were included in the recording as well as Hannon's extremely gifted son Brandon Lane. Brandon played trombone and bass for this song. He recorded the bass track in one take which was off the hook, especially considering that he is only 15 years old. My man Fred drove from Manning, South Carolina and arrived at the studio at 8:30a.m., two and a half hours early. The session start time was 11:00a.m. During the time before the session began Fred shedded, which was another big lesson for Saxsmo. Fred also recorded the melody part and solo in one take as well as background lines that he helped to arrange on the spot. Brandon and Hannon completed the background horn lines on trombone.