Bringing the same kind of emotional depth and stylistic diversity to contemporary jazz as his heroes and chief influences Lee Ritenour and Larry Carlton, guitarist/composer Patrick Yandall has blazed creative and commercial trails that have inspired a new generation of independent instrumental musicians to pursue their dreams without compromise. Sixteen years after breaking onto the scene with his first national recording That Feels Nice—a sentiment shared by thousands of fans who still have that seminal work in their collections—the multi-talented San Diego based performer is as dynamic, passionate and inventive as ever on his Innervisions Records debut The Window, which marks his incredible 11th release to date.
On the heels of Going For One and One Hour Blues, extraordinary, hard-hitting 2010 projects that explored Yandall’s lifelong loves of hard-rock and blues-rock, respectively, the artist brings a fiery edge, intense funk grooves and tastes of cool tropicality and retro jazz-soul to the self-produced 12 track collection that, true to its title, offers a unique window to Yandall’s ever-evolving musical soul. Its diversity has its roots in the Yandall’s many compositions these past years for numerous top music libraries, which license his prolific work in many genres for television, film and numerous corporations. His compositions have been heard everywhere from The Weather Channel to “War, Inc.,” the 2008 film starring John Cusack, Marisa Tomei and Hilary Duff which featured “Who’s The Bossa.”
While Yandall’s presence on the internet and his popularity on websites like Reverb Nation and Facebook has helped him built a worldwide following and a thousands-strong fan base, fans in his longtime home of San Diego get to hear him play his popular radio hits and shed new material on a regular basis at Humphrey’s Backstage Live—where the popular smooth jazz station KIFM hosts shows on Sunday nights—and downtown hotspots like Anthology.
In addition to producing and/or recording for NBC, KUSI 51 and various San Diego media outlets, his prolific studio and live performance work over the years includes working with renowned jazz artists Michael Paulo, Scott Wilkie, J. Michael Verta, Greg Vail, Tommy Emmanuel and the late Carl Evans, Jr. (Fattburger) and Hollis Gentry. His solo discography includes A Lasting Embrace (1997); Of Two Cities (2000); Back To The Groove (2002); From The Ashes (2004); Eyes of Mars (2005); Samoa Soul (2006); New York Blues (2007); Laws of Groovity (2008); and A New Day (2009). Rhapsody Music once called Yandall “a middle of the road guitar god,” while Jazziz Magazine made note of his “solid songwriting, guitar chops and arrangements,” which added “a fresh twist to the world of smooth and contemporary jazz.”
“In the 90s, the genre that evolved into smooth jazz was known as contemporary jazz, and that designation allowed for more improvisation and real jazz fusion energy even as the songs were driven by melody and groove,” says Yandall, who began playing guitar at age 11 after hearing greats like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Carlos Santana. “All these years later, I still have that contemporary jazz bug in me, and love doing extended soloing, like Carton and Ritenour always have done even on their pop-oriented projects. I think I’ve grown as a composer and my songs have become deeper and more interesting and intricate over time. When I was working on material for The Window, I noticed a common thread of Jeff Lorber-like old school soul keyboard harmonies that were fun to include, but there is also a lot of blues-rock, pop-rock and even tropical flavors that make it exciting and unpredictable.”
The first single from “The Window” is “Tower Of Soul,” a high energy, synth brass driven, blues-pop-funk jam styled after the classic Tower of Power vibe; another track drawing on this influence is the intensely simmering “It’s On Me,” whose unforgettable melody is driven by Yandall’s trademark crisp electric lines. Another key track in light of recent world events is “Hope For Haiti,” which begins with a prayer like chant but quickly evolves into a passionate rock ballad that brings hope and healing from a deep, soul stirring place in Yandall’s heart.
Looking deeper through The Window, the album’s highlights include: the retro-soul, synth brass and vibrant percussion driven opening track “To The Left”; the lush and breezy, summery tropicality of “La Jolla” (named after a high end beach town near San Diego); the searing, cool and rock edged title track that draws from those Clapton/Hendrix influences; the sweet, lighthearted “Jersey Shore” (featuring a distinctively bluesy keyboard harmony); the charming, easy swaying romance “You and I,” which includes a happy sprinkling of steel pans; the top down, mid-tempo carefree cool of “City By The Bay”; and the wonderfully celebratory, laid back funk of “Margaritas at Sunset.” Yandall closes The Window with the moody, easy rolling old school soul flavored “Lifelines” and the haunting and ambient “new age pop rock” ballad “The Last Time.”
The product of a constantly moving military family, Yandall spent the majority of his growing up years in Bay City, Michigan. He switched from his first instrument, the trumpet, to the guitar after a freak football accident and a three month hospital stay; while recovering, his father brought him a guitar book, which ultimately would inspire his lifelong passion. During his teen years, Yandall made the nightclubs of East Lansing his training grounds and began performing in over-eighteen clubs when he was only 13. A summer program at Berklee College of Music and a brief stint at Central Michigan University helped the guitarist hone his rock-leaning talents on a powerful jazz fusion approach which would define his later solo work.
“My favorite part of this career as it has evolved,” Yandall says, “is to create music that touches people around the world and to perform for fans in my hometown and different festivals yet also have the luxury of working in my home studio most of the time. That allows me to be a normal family guy and spend a lot of time with my 11 year old son, Marcus. It’s always great to realize that music has the potential to touch so many different people and I am continually on a mission to compose, record and perform better songs all the time.”