Keyboardist Myron McKinley to Release New Album ‘Sound Alchemist’

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“Sound Alchemist” Myron McKinley mixes a bold jazz and neo soul collection

The keyboardist will release the album on October 28 accompanied by a series of imaginative videos.

LOS ANGELES (September 15, 2022): keyboardist Myron McKinley has a clear vision for his own creative expression, but perhaps more importantly, he has a clear vision to provide the impetus needed to break down boundaries and drive the evolution of jazz. Released on October 28 on the Dark Elf Music label, the ten songs “Sound Alchemist” is a scholarly thesis of sonic exploration and experimentation written and produced by McKinley as a blend of contemporary, direct and fusion jazz; hip-hop, R&B and soul; and multicultural nuance.

As the music industry continues to turn to singles as singular musical statements, McKinley prefers to take listeners on a complete journey via an album. “Sound Alchemist” does exactly that. Deftly, it offers enough familiar allure, such as the recording of “Close to You” by The Carpenter, “La Belle Dame San Regrets” by Sting, “Imagination” by Earth, Wind & Fire and “From Time” by Drake. and Jhene Aiko, but he reinvents each – sometimes drastically – by obliterating the source material.

McKinley’s own compositions are equally expansive and ambitious, stimulating jazz to grow and listeners to open their minds. He offers “Will You” in homage to Nat King Cole, who long before he was known to seduce and charm with his elegant and silky voice, he was a remarkably skilled pianist. Another track on which McKinley performs all instruments is “Matrix,” a wildly adventurous instrumental rooted in seemingly opposite elements: bebop and European electronic club music. Accompanied by guitarist Morris O’Connor and trombonist Reggie Young, the keyboardist expands even further on “Crowded Club”, referencing the early 1970s funk and jazz fusion hybrids created by The Headhunters and Herbie Hancock. McKinley merges straight jazz, hip hop beats and electronic dance music on “Let’s Just See”, the result of which is a supremely ingenious recording. Sensual and dark elements engender “Remembering You”.

An all-star program illuminates the centerpiece of the “Tunisian Morning” selection. Grammy-winning saxophonist Gerald Albright plays solo with fellow saxophonist Gary Bias, bassist Reggie Hamilton and percussionist Munyungo Jackson.

“I was lucky enough to play at Nelson Mandela’s birthday party and while we were celebrating there I heard all these different types of beats. I thought that was wonderful. So I kind of took a Bob James approach to the melody, but using the beat that I heard there and then everyone played on it. I was lucky to have all these musicians playing on it. They had so much fun doing it. I literally had to stop Munyungo from adding more tracks. He wanted to do more, but he had it so full you don’t even notice there’s no drums on the track,” McKinley said.

Visuals are an important aspect of McKinley’s approach to “Sound Alchemist”, so three videos were created with a fourth in the planning stages. On the auspicious date of September 21, McKinley’s tribute to Earth, Wind & Fire drops and her “Imagination” video is quite personal. For the past twenty years, McKinley has toured with the legendary band, serving as musical director for the past twelve. The band’s energizing bassist Verdine White plays on the track with falsetto singer Danny McClain. The video consists of photos of McKinley from two decades of touring the world with EWF.

The “Let’s Just See” video arrives October 5th. The clip depicts the actual story behind the song.

McKinley explains, “I was in New York and it’s so loud. I was trying to practice, then I was distracted by the noise. Eventually I decided to hang out at the club and brought a melodica. I went there and the DJ was playing. He gave me a microphone and I started playing melodica with him. It turned out really cool. Everyone had fun and I had a lot of fun. The DJ played a bunch of different stuff and we just had fun, and it became a thing for about a good hour. For the video, I had to write a script and time everything. It was the first time I did something like this. I had to write the timeline and tell the animator what needed to happen in each cartoon. We had a lot of fun creating this.

The animation video for “From Time” is set to be released on October 21. What drew McKinley to the song was the lyric “I love each other enough for both of us”, which is sung in a dreamlike voice by Denaine Jones.

“I think that statement will resonate with any man because it means you won’t have to give her what she’s supposed to already have. When I heard the song, I fell in love of what she’s saying. For the video, I was thinking of how a lot of people are playing music and doing other things while they’re messaging. I thought it would be nice if she sent a text to a guy to tell him how she feels “I love each other enough for both of us. You see her sitting against the wall in New York, texting during the solo and at the end. I thought that it was an interesting journey to add a lot of feel to it,” explained McKinley, who will perform the music for “Sound Alchemist” at the Soiled Dove Underground in Denver on October 22.

Originally from Los Angeles, McKinley studied classical and jazz piano, notably under the tutelage of Grammy-winning trumpeter Wynton Marsalis. But the influence of hip hop in his works is just as widespread as jazz and classical.

“I grew up in the era of hip hop. I was listening to A Tribe Called Quest and Oscar Peterson on the same radio station. I loved it all. When you arrive like that, it’s always part of you, even if you have classical and jazz. It’s still part of your DNA musically. I think ‘Sound Alchemist’ shows a lot of that. You can hear church aspects, classical aspects, jazz aspects and it also shows hip hop aspects.

In addition to his longtime duties with Earth, Wind & Fire, McKinley has toured with Whitney Houston, Kenny Lattimore, Stanley Clarke, En Vogue and Shai. He has written, co-written or produced songs for EWF, Clarke, Doc Powell, Silk, Vesta, Cherokee and Howard Hewett. He has also composed music for film and television scores, contributing to ‘Soul Food’, ‘Romeo Must Die’, ‘The Best Man’, ‘Think Like A Man’, ‘Shaft’ and ‘The Godfather of Harlem” among many others. . But jazz is at home, so McKinley makes time to perform with his own jazz trio.

The bold spirit and fearless reach of McKinley heard throughout “Sound Alchemist” is deliberately sprawling, deliberately edgy, deliberately young and dynamic, and deliberately inclusive. This is where he thinks jazz needs to go to become relevant again.

“I don’t think musically right now the boundaries are being pushed. I could have easily done (recorded) something else and steered it towards a certain genre and left it there without pushing, but musically, to really grow things, you need adventurers to push the genre.

“Sound Alchemist” contains the following songs:

“Close to you”
“Go away”
“Crowded Club”
“Let’s just see”
“The Beautiful Lady Without Regrets”
“Remembering You”
“Tunisian Morning”
“of time”

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