BRAMBLETT, RANDALL

BRAMBLETT, RANDALL
Items
Pine Needle Fire CD € 14.90* Info

Now It's Tomorrow ist die neueste Produktion eines echten Allroundtalents der amerikanischen Rockszene. Der in unseren Breiten als Solokünstler sträflicherweise immer noch vernachlässigte Musiker aus Atlanta, Georgia ist in seiner Heimat seit gut 35 Jahren ein hoch dotierter Sessionmann, war zwischenzeitlich Mitglied einer sehr bekannten Südstaatenkultband und begeistert regelmäßig wie ein schweizer Uhrwerk mit eigenen Werken als Singer/Songwriter!

Natürlich kennen Fans des guten alten Southern Rock den Namen RANDALL BRAMBLETT im Zusammenhang mit einschlägigen 70er Vinyl-Klassikern von Gregg Allman über Cowboy bis Elvin Bishop, Bonnie Bramlett und der Atlanta Rhythm Section. Von 1977-80 spielte er eine elementare Chefrolle beim Allman Brothers Band-Ableger Sea Level, brachte hier als Virtuose an Keyboards und Saxofon, aber auch als Leadsänger und Komponist Southern R&B, Soul, Fusion und intelligentes Rocksongwriting unter einen Hut. Nach einer längeren Phase mit kaum auffälligen Jobs startete er seit etwa Mitte der 90er wieder voll durch, spielte mit Steve Winwood/Traffic, Warren Haynes/Gov't Mule, Widespread Panic, Johnny Jenkins, Francine Reed, den Vigilantes Of Love, Jerry Joseph & The Jackmormons u.v.a. Volle Energie steckte er dazu verstärkt in seine Solokarriere, die einst vor einer Ewigkeit - also noch vor Sea Level - mit den beiden Polydor-LPs That Other Mile (75) und Light Of The Night (76) einen eher unspektakulären, soliden Anfang nahm.

1998 veröffentlichte Bramblett die famose Comeback-CD See Through Me, im Sommer 2001 folgte No More Mr.Lucky, 2004 legte er mit seinem Blue Rose-Debüt Thin Places nach: Das war edler, geschmackvoller "blue-eyed" Southern Soul/Pop/Rock, wie er in dieser Qualität schon lange nicht mehr zu hören war! Rich Someday greift im Sommer 2006 auf die bewährten Strukturen von Thin Places zurück, klingt aber deutlich Band-orientierter, spontaner, rauer, Roots-rockiger. Das war Randall Bramblett als zeitgemäßer Americana-Künstler, wie man ihn zuvor noch nie gehört hatte.

Auf Now It's Tomorrow kehrt der Südstaatenmusiker zurück zu seinen Sea Level-Wurzeln. Ganz anders als noch auf Rich Someday hatte er alle 11 Tracks alleine geschrieben und die meisten Arrangements bereits vollständig ausgearbeitet, bevor er mit der Band ins Studio ging. Die besondere Aufgabenstellung war bei dieser Arbeitsweise, die Musik "am Leben" zu erhalten, eine gewisse Liveatmosphäre trotz strikter Aufnahmeabläufe zu erzeugen und seine Musiker zu instrumentellen Glanzleistungen zu motivieren, obwohl sie diesmal bei der Entstehung des Materials gar nicht beteiligt waren. So tauchen plötzlich die alten Fusion/Jazz-Elemente von Sea Level wieder auf, sie werden mit den gewohnt ausladenden Melodien, den flexiblen Rhythmen und schlicht "tödlichen" Refrains elegant synchronisiert. Randall Bramblett versteht es dabei, gleichermaßen professionell und inspiriert, streng durcharrangiert und dennoch wurzelnah rüberzukommen. Neben seinem Können als vielseitiger Instrumentalist an diversen Tasteninstrumenten, Saxofonen und (hier nur noch selten) auf der akustischen Gitarre bestätigt er sich ein weiteres Mal als einfühlsamer Sänger mit einer geradezu aufreizend attraktiven, stets leicht angerauten Stimme, für die er eigentlich einen Waffenschein bräuchte...

Auf Now It's Tomorrow präsentiert sich die Randall Bramblett Band personell unverändert: Gitarrist Davis Causey gehört seit seligen Sea Level-Zeiten fest zum Inventar, mit dem jungen, talentierten Mike Hines steht ihm ein weiterer Axeman zur Seite, der als Rhythmusgitarrist begann, jetzt zunehmend Soloanteile erhält, gelegentlich an der Slide Guitar brilliert. Michael C.Steele ist der Bassist, ein Insidertipp aus Athens, der u.a. mit den Vigilantes Of Love aufnahm. Als wichtigster Baustein gilt Drummer Gerry Hansen, ein so genannter Singer/Songwriter-Schlagzeuger, der zwar zupacken kann, wenn der Rock'n Roll es erfordert, andererseits intelligente Muster für die rhythmisch komplizierteren Funk & Fusion-infizierten Tracks parat hält. Darüberhinaus hat er wieder sein Privatstudio für die Recordings zur Verfügung gestellt und sich als Produzent profiliert.

Die meisten der 11 Songs auf Now It's Tomorrow berichten von Erfahrungen mit Übergängen zwischen verschiedenen Lebensphasen. Eine Kernfrage lautet, wieviel Restzeit übrig bleibt und wie man sie am besten nutzen will. So wird in 'Some Mean God' und 'Where A Life Goes' Tod und Verlust thematisiert, in anderen Stücken wie 'Don't Waste Your Time', 'Visions' oder 'Used To Rule The World' die Sinnfrage nach Glück, Freude und Vergänglichkeit gestellt. Als ein lebenslang in Georgia geerdeter Musiker zeigt uns Randall Bramblett dabei seine poetische Südstaatenader. Den Texten von Now It's Tomorrow zu lauschen hat somit ein wenig was vom Lesen eines William Faulkner-Buches.


RANDALL BRAMBLETT and his wife, Lenore, were kicking around ideas for an album title when she suggested Now It’s Tomorrow. But no amount of thought could have produced a more apt description of where the singer-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist stands at this point in his celebrated career.
While Bramblett may not be a household name, he is legendary within music circles for his songwriting and musicianship. He released a pair of acclaimed solo albums in the mid-’70s, then joined the jazz-rock outfit Sea Level, becoming their principal songwriter and vocalist. From there, Bramblett embarked on a path as a big-league, musical utility man (primarily sax and keys) and landed on the speed dial of some of the greatest names in rock history, including Traffic, Steve Winwood, Levon Helm and Bonnie Raitt. Along the way, although he did not resume his solo recording career, he continued to perform live with The Randall Bramblett Band. Then around the turn of the new millennium, he refocused on his recording career and signed a contract with New West Records. Now It’s Tomorrow, his fourth for the label, represents an artistic peak in his long and stellar career.
“Most of the songs speak about the experience of time passing and moving from one stage of life to another,” he says. “How much time does anyone have left? I think that’s the big question of this record.”
Unlike his previous albums on which he cowrote extensively with other band members, particularly longtime friend and collaborator Davis Causey, Bramblett had all the songs for the new record, as well as most of the arrangements, written beforehand. “It certainly wasn’t a conscious effort,” he explains. “These are the songs I wrote between the last record and this one. It’s just the way it worked out, that I happened to be working on my own most of the time. This record was a little different also because, except for “Blue Road,” and “You Better Move,” I had all the arrangements done. I was just playing around with them along the way and I found parts that I liked and didn’t want to change. So this record is the closest to the demos I’ve ever done.”
Compared to his last album, Now It’s Tomorrow is more of a straight-up rock record with a bigger, funkier sound. “On the previous one [Rich Someday], we went into it thinking we wanted to make a more organic, trashy sounding record, a real back-porch kind of record,” he says. “We picked some songs that had a little more of an Americana feel — kind of bluesy, country, rootsy. “This record is really energetic with some Beatles, psychedelic, and some Indian influences. We spent more time on production than we had on any of my previous records.”

Now It’s Tomorrow was recorded and mixed by producer/drummer Gerry Hansen at his Creekside Station studio in Lawrenceville, Ga. Bramblett credits Hansen as the “guiding force in all this; the one we rely on for sounds, for mixing and the grooves.” The album also features the other members of the Randall Bramblett Band — guitarist Causey, guitarist Mike Hines, and bassist Michael C. Steele. Hines and Steele also contributed backing vocals. “Because the demos were already pretty complete, this was a tough record to make,” he says. “Working this way, you can lose some of that excitement and energy in the studio, but everyone figured out how they could contribute, you know, and make the record theirs."
It may have been a tough album to make, but that sometimes is the mark of great art. And Now It’s Tomorrow is arguably the strongest artistic statement of Bramblett’s life, full of memorable songs and musical performances. His own instrumental prowess provides plenty of examples of the saxophone and keyboard chops for which he is renowned.

Bramblett “grew up playing soul music” in Jesup, Georgia. His hero was James Brown, but he also had a lot of Ray Charles and some jazz influences. Those influences are evident throughout the eleven cuts that make up the new record, along with the aforementioned Beatles and psychedelic elements.
Growing up in Southeast Georgia, nature loomed large in his life, particularly the swamps around the Altamaha River. To Bramblett, the swamps represented something mystical, filling him with wonder and awe, while fueling his interest in his own spirituality. After high school, Bramblett studied religion and psychology at the University of North Carolina, and for most of his time there, he planned to attend a seminary upon graduation. But by his senior year, inspired by the likes of James Taylor and Carole King, he began to try his hand at songwriting. The results were good enough for him to abandon his seminary plans after graduation and move to Athens, GA. to further pursue music.
Another major influence on Bramblett’s songwriting was Bob Dylan and he attributes rock’s poet laureate with opening a new lyrical path for him. “I think he freed songwriters from feeling obliged to make strict literal sense. He expanded the boundaries of popular songs and that probably gave me permission to explore that, too.”
Two of the songs on Now It’s Tomorrow, “Some Mean God” and “Where A Life Goes,” deal with absences and losses, while some of Bramblett’s compositions are peopled by characters who would seem right at home in a Southern gothic novel. The best example of this is “Mess About It,” in which “People down in Mobile / Live in a silver box / They make trouble everywhere they go / They got history you don’t want to know.” But the past-their-prime people in “Used To Rule The World,” like “Miss South Carolina 1975 / Somebody stole your crown),” possess similar tragicomic qualities. And when he sings about these various people in his soulful, raspy voice, the listener is transported to another time and place, much as a reader is transported while reading a Faulkner novel. “The songs on this record come out of a very rich time in my life,” Bramblett says. “We’ve had losses, we’ve had births. My home is in a beautiful place in nature. I look out and I feel grateful and amazed and inspired and sad and joyful all at the same time.”
— Daryl Sanders, July 2008

One Response to “Artists”

Leave a Reply