Pianist and keyboardist Eddie Gip Noble, a music veteran of both the jazz and rhythm’n’blues scenes for the past three decades, has released his debut album, Love T.K.O., titled after the huge hit he wrote for a Teddy Pendergrass Platinum album. Although Noble’s primarily-instrumental CD will appeal to smooth jazz enthusiasts, its unique style comes from the blending of R&B and funk rhythms with jazz soloing on acoustic and electric pianos.
An admitted fan of Herbie Hancock’s keyboard work (especially his classic Sixties and Seventies performances), Noble on this new recording specifically attempted to capture that historic jazz-funk fusion sound, although updated with his own contemporary embellishments. The result is frisky, funky beats masterfully blended in select spots with melodic improvisation. Gip is featured on piano and various synthesizers, and is joined by several special guest musicians including female singers on the choruses of a couple of tunes.
Noble’s CD, on Sonido Noble Records, can be purchased online at his website (personalized and autographed copies available at www.eddiegipnoble.com), major web-stores such as www.amazon.com and www.cdbaby.com, and many digital download locations including iTunes and Rhapsody.
Noble is a former child prodigy turned jazz patriarch. Because of his extensive musical background playing with top R&B, blues and jazz artists, Gip brings a lot of variety to his own music.
He has toured extensively supporting such R&B notables as Brothers Johnson (serving as musical director as well), Gladys Knight & The Pips, Patti Austin, Barry White, Shalamar, Mary Wells, the Marvelettes, Teena Marie, The Drifters, The Platters, Brenton Woods, Arpeggio, The Jones Girls, Mona Raye Campbell, Munyungo (Stevie Wonder, Patti LaBelle), Ricky Minor (Whitney Houston, Lionel Richie), Tisha Campbell (Lenny Kravitz), Gil Askey (Diana Ross, The Temptations) and others. Gip also has played with top blues artists including Johnny “Guitar” Watson (they toured for four years and Gip served as musical director), Etta James (as her musical director), Albert Collins and blues-rocker Joe Walsh.
In addition, Noble has extensive credentials in the jazz field having performed with saxophonist Gerald Albright, saxophonist Plas Johnson (Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald), trumpet and flugelhorn player Rahmlee Michael Davis (Earth Wind & Fire, Ramsey Lewis), bassist Larry Gales (Thelonious Monk, Herbie Mann), bassist Henry “The Skipper” Franklin (Freddie Hubbard, Archie Shepp), bassist Andy Simkins (The Three Sounds, George Shearing), drummer James Gatson (Norman Connors), saxophonist and singer Pamela Williams (Teddy Pendergrass, Patti LaBelle), singer Linda Hopkins (Jackie Wilson), singer Debra Laws (Dianne Reeves, Ronnie Laws), guitarist Ronald Muldrow (Eddie Harris, Maceo Parker), bassist Hilliard Wilson (Dionne Warwick, Paul Taylor), and singer Ernie Andrews (Harry James Orchestra, Gene Harris), among others.
Gip has recorded with Randy Crawford, Noel Pointer, Wayne Henderson, David Oliver, Johnny “Guitar” Watson, Etta James, Womack & Womack, Shalamar, Stacye Branche, Charles Brown, Amos Garrett and Hilliard Wilson. Noble has appeared in numerous films as an actor playing a musician – the Clint Eastwood-directed “Bird” (the Charlie Parker biography), “City Heat” with Eastwood and Burt Reynolds, “Animal House” in Chuck Berry’s band, Richard Pryor’s “Jo Jo Dancer,” Eddie Murphy’s “The Nutty Professor,” “Against All Odds” with Jeff Bridges, “Inspector Gadget” and “The Tina Turner Story;” and Gip also made appearances in television shows such as “Dallas,” “Knot’s Landing” and Julia Louis- Dreyfus’s “12 Minutes of Fame” and “Watching Ellie.”
“Love T.K.O.,” co-written by Noble and Cecil Womack, not only was a major R&B and pop hit for Pendergrass (amazon.com called the song his “greatest of the great”), the tune also has been covered by Hall & Oates, Bette Midler, Womack & Womack, Regina Belle, The Nylons, Boz Scaggs, Clive Griffin, Rory Block, Jacksoul, Sarah Jane Morris and Eric Darius, and has been sampled for recordings by Mila J and Compton’s Most Wanted. Additionally, Noble has co-written songs for Brothers Johnson (the hit “I’m Giving You All Of My Love”), Johnny “Guitar” Watson’s Watsonian Institute (“Funk If I Know”), Etta James (“You Send Me” and two others), and Pamela Williams (“Temperature’s Rising”).
Born Gip Edward Noble, Jr. in Chicago, his earliest musical memory is his father playing piano frequently in their home. “My dad played a lot of jazz and standards, and began giving me lessons when I was four. I lived at the corner of 43rd and South Park, and right there was the 400 Liquor Store that played jazz loud all day long, and just down the block a jazz night club, the Rose Room, so I heard music all the time. I was too young to get into the clubs, but I remember standing outside one time listening to Smokey Robinson sing.” Gip’s earliest influences were all the Motown pop-soul acts and the more bluesy Etta James, Ray Charles and Bobby Blue Bland. “My life changed when a friend gave me a single by The Three Sounds with Gene Harris on piano,” Gip remembers. “I immediately started looking for jazz piano teachers and found Don James, who was a friend of Herbie Hancock’s. Don told me I should be listening to Herbie so I started buying his albums and every recording I could find with Herbie on it, and that led me to a lot of other great jazz like Miles Davis, Wes Montgomery, Kenny Burrell and Wayne Shorter.”
Noble went into the Air Force and was stationed in Germany where he hung out with members of the post’s military band and played in their experimental jazz group before starting his own jazz trio to perform in German clubs. Gip saw two influential concerts in Germany, Miles Davis (“his stuff became my musical bible”) and Grand Funk Railroad (“I have always listened to all types of music from Jimi Hendrix to Stevie Wonder”). Back in Chicago, Noble studied avant-garde jazz with Muhal Richard Abrams (Dexter Gordon, Max Roach), president of the influential Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. Noble began composing, and his tune “Desert B.C.” received airplay in Chicago.
Gip moved to Los Angeles in 1976 to further his musical pursuits and quickly became a sought-after accompanist for top R&B and blues acts. “One time I was hired by Gladys Knight and it was intense because they gave me her music at 10 p.m. and we started tour rehearsals the next morning. In the show she sang ‘I Will Survive’ and I accompanied her alone on piano. When I toured Japan with Patti Austin, we did ‘A Song For You’ and she told me she wanted me to play it with a different ending every night. That was quite a challenge.” In his spare time, Noble put together jazz trios and quartets to play Southern California gigs doing material by Chick Corea, Dave Grusin, Noel Pointer, Earl Klugh, Lee Ritenour and other popular contemporary jazzsters. “I always tried to be innovative with my arrangements and add my own twist to them.”
On his Love T.K.O. album, Gip brought in special guests: drummer and co-producer David Williams (The O’Jays, Patti LaBelle), bassist Andre Berry (Brothers Johnson), saxophonist Louis Taylor (Ray Charles, Michael Bolton), trumpet player Jon Barnes, and vocalists Mona Raye Campbell (Tisha Campbell) and Zuri (Chaka Kahn, Brenton Woods). Noble’s version of “Love T.K.O.” is mostly-instrumental (“I had just left a relationship when I wrote it so I could relate to the idea of a ‘technical knock-out’.”). Noble wrote a half-dozen other tunes for this recording including “Noble Cause” (“making music is the most noble cause I know”), “Nite Song” (“I envisioned two lovers walking hand-in-hand in the moonlight along the ocean”), the goodtimey “Carousel” and the urban beats of “Gip Hop.” Noble does a seven-minute-plus version of Burt Bacharach’s “Trains & Boats & Planes” (made famous by Dionne Warwick) full of piano soloing (“I first arranged this in 1970”), and a smooth jazz version of the big pop hit “Sailing.” Noble also covers “Christo Redentor” (“I was inspired by the version with Herbie Hancock playing piano behind trumpet player Donald Byrd”).
“I’m still influenced by the amazing, funky, electric piano sounds that Herbie Hancock created 35 years ago. I try to instill my playing with that same drive and energy.”