Orpheus Music has been at the forefront of Smooth Jazz for over 30 years. Having shaped the careers of the genre’s top artists, the label continues its long-standing legacy with the latest release from Andre Ward. Smooth Jazz’s top saxophonist is changing the atmosphere by fusing the elements of traditional Jazz, R&B, Gospel, Hip-Hop and Pop into an explosive sound that is incomparable. A master of the soprano, alto and tenor saxophone, flute and EWI (electronic wind instrument), the hip connoisseur is reinventing the genre with the release of his new album, CRYSTAL CITY.
Born and raised on the westside of Chicago, Andre was introduced to music at an early age. “When I was 12 years-old, I met the drums and started playing the snare drums for about six months, then courted the trumpet for three months, but when I picked-up the saxophone, I fell in love and the eternal union began,” reveals the musician.
Similar to his musical inspirations Grover Washington Jr., Charlie Parker and Cannonball Adderley, Andre’s study of music and its many different intricacies enabled him to perfect a traditional jazz sound enhanced by his distinctive creative flair. Bestowed with a music performing scholarship at the renowned Berklee College of Music in Boston, Andre continued to pursue his passion by building a resume that rivaled his contemporaries. Having toured and worked with some of the biggest names in music, his dynamic performances have captivated audiences worldwide by creating an environment of smooth, sweet, hypnotic, sounds that seem surreal.
Fueled by passion, creativity, and pure talent, expectations became reality when Andre’s debut album, FEELIN YOU, reached a top five position on Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz Chart, featuring the renditions of “Fallin” by Alicia Keys and “Shape of My Heart” by The Backstreet Boys. But it didn’t stop there. His sophomore album, STEPPIN UP, peaked in the top ten and it was no coincidence coming from Chicago, “The Stepper’s Capitol”, that his cover of R. Kelly’s hit, “Step In The Name of Love,” became his first single to cross genre lines. It broadened Andre’s fan base to include both R&B and hip-hop enthusiasts.
Now with his third release, CRYSTAL CITY, the growth and innovative approach showcased on his previous projects continues to be consistent. A product of Orpheus Music/Hush Productions, CRYSTAL CITY is a ground-breaking masterpiece executive produced by Beau and Charli Huggins. “From Alex Bugnon to newcomer saxophonist Rob White Orpheus Music / Hush Production’s name has been synonymous with quality music,” stated Beau Huggins, President of Orpheus Music. “Young, accomplished and edgy, Andre continues to build on the foundation laid by his Orpheus/ Hush predecessors, Najee and Kenny G.”
CRYSTAL CITY invites music lovers to a magical place that shines with unusual brilliance, where Andre Ward is the tour guide. The musical journey begins with the funk laced, “They Keep Calling Me,” followed by the dreamy “Wishful Thinking,” which is accented by the vocal prowess of Barbara Fowler, whose voice is reminiscent of a young Anita Baker. The Yasha produced, “Andre’s Theme,” is a smooth jazzy tune reflective of Ward’s laid back style, while, “I Don’t Want to be in Love,” produced by Marc Nelson (AZ Yet) and “Chicago Here We Go,” offers a soulful excursion for R&B music fans. But one of the most meaningful and personal songs on the album is “New Orleans Lights” penned as a tribute to the great city and the birthplace of jazz, where Andre shows off his technical abilities with heartfelt emotion.
Andre Ward continues to evolve into the type of musician that truly lives for the love of making music that respects the past, yet steps into the future. And with his newest release, he continues to do just that. CRYSTAL CITY is the perfect escape that will keep Smooth Jazz on the map forever.