Jeffrey Osborne Brings His Soulful Sound to the Playboy Jazz Festival

Singer Jeffrey Osborne (left) will be making his Playboy Jazz Festival debut in June. EUR (Electronic Urban Report) founder Lee Bailey shares a light moment with Osborne at the Playboy Mansion. Photo Credit: Dennis J. Freeman
Singer Jeffrey Osborne (left) will be making his Playboy Jazz Festival debut in June. EUR (Electronic Urban Report) founder Lee Bailey shares a light moment with Osborne at the Playboy Mansion. Photo Credit: Dennis J. Freeman
Singer Jeffrey Osborne (left) will be making his Playboy Jazz Festival debut in June. EUR (Electronic Urban Report) founder Lee Bailey shares a light moment with Osborne at the Playboy Mansion. Photo Credit: Dennis J. Freeman

BEVERLY HILLS-When noted crooner Jeffrey Osborne takes the stage for the first time as a performer at the Playboy Jazz Festival in June, he will be returning to his roots. In some ways he already has.  Osborne, one of the most soulful singers of all-time, will be sharing the stage with legendary producer and jazz musician George Duke.

It is fittingly that the pair would be on stage together since Duke collaborated with the longtime R&B/pop balladeer on Osborne’s latest CD, “A Time for Love.” If “A Time for Love” is anything like Osborne’s hit-making solo album “Stay With Me Tonight” or smash single “We’re Going All the Way,” which Duke produced, then great reviews are bound to come.

“A Time for Love,” a collection of songs that pays homage to jazz standards, puts Osborne back into the limelight. And that’s a good thing for many of his devoted followers. It’s also a great thing for Playboy Jazz Festival devotees to hear this vocal icon belt out songs like nobody else can.

The former lead singer of the R&B group L.T.D., Osborne’s deep-throated, raspy voice has been the signature sound on hits like Love Ballad, We Both Deserve Each Other’s Love, Stranger and (Every Time I Turn Around) Back in Love Again.

After splitting L.T.D, Osborne moved up the ladder, enjoying success in the pop genre as a solo artist with hits like “You Should Be Mine.” Now he gets his opportunity to sing live in front of a jazz-enthused audience at the Playboy Jazz Festival.

Attending a press conference held at the Playboy Mansion announcing the talent lineup for this year’s Playboy Jazz Festival, Osborne said he is excited about performing. News4usonline.com caught up with Osborne for a few minutes to get his take on being invited to the Playboy Jazz Festival stage.

News4usonline.com:  Can you talk about being part of the Playboy Jazz Festival and what it means to you?

JO: “It’s incredible. The timing couldn’t be better for me. I just released a jazz standards record. George Duke produced it. It’s called “A Time for Love,” and it’s just a wonderful thing. I know all of these guys, been hanging out with them for years…George [Duke] and Herbie [Hancock], and all of these guys, with Stanley Clarke. It’s about time I got on this festival.”

News4usonline.com:  Has it been a steady path towards going in the direction of jazz for you?

JO: “I grew up with jazz. I’m the youngest of twelve in my family. I had to listen to what they wanted to listen to before I could listen to what I wanted to listen to. It’s very natural thing for me. It’s really my roots. My father was a jazz trumpet player. He played with [Duke] Ellington, [Count] Basie, so I got it naturally.”

News4usonline.com: So why didn’t you pursue going into jazz in the beginning of your career as opposed to going into R&B?

JO: “Well, when I was coming up the Motown era was in. I was singing doo-wop on the corner. My dad was playing jazz at night, I’m singing doo-wop and I got my first break with L.T.D. They came through my hometown, so that’s where I ended up…doing R&B.”

News4usonline.com: Can you talk about the progression of going from singing love songs like “Love Ballad” to what you’re doing today?

JO: “It’s nothing but another song to me. It’s all the same. The only way I treated it differently is that I really stick to the melody. With R&B, you can float around and sing all these licks and everything, but this kind of a record I wanted to stick strictly to the melody. The melody is so beautiful. You don’t have to do anything. You can over sing the record, and I didn’t want to over sing this record, so I stuck to the melody, and I had a great guy behind me producing me in George Duke. It’s a beautiful thing when you can fit your voice in the middle of his orchestration…it’s a win-win situation there.”

News4usonline.com: What’s your relationship like with George [Duke]?

JO: “He produced my first three solo albums, so we have an incredible relationship. I don’t know why I got away from him, but it was one of the record company decisions; you made three records with George, let’s to move in another direction. It was the worst mistake I’ve ever made. So finally I got a chance to get back with him and this is his roots, too. It was great for us to come together to make this record. “

News4usonline.com: Do you feel at home singing jazz?

JO: “Yes. It’s very natural. A song is a song. You just sing it. My father used to tell me years ago, ‘Boy, if you can’t sing a whole in that note, you can’t sing.’ That’s the most important thing to me. If I can touch you with a whole note I feel like I’ve done my job. I can sing a million riffs, but they don’t touch anybody. If you can touch somebody with a whole note, then you’re singing.”

 

 

Dennis J. Freeman
About Dennis J. Freeman 1076 Articles
Dennis covers the NFL (San Diego Chargers), NBA (Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers), Major League Baseball (Los Angeles Dodgers) and NCAA sports (USC, UCLA, Long Beach State). As a professional journalist, Dennis has also covered and written on topics such as civil rights, politics and social justice. Dennis is a graduate of Howard University.