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Aaron Neville Make His Verve Records Debut With Nature Boy

Acclaimed vocalist reinvents the Great American Songbook on August, 2003 release

Aaron Neville - Nature Boy - photo by Greg Miles

On Tuesday, August 26th, Verve Records will release Nature Boy, a new recording by the great Aaron Neville. A deeply satisfying suite of standards sung with remarkable sensitivity, Nature Boy is both a hallmark and a revelation: Aaron's feel for sweetly swinging jazz is pitch-perfect. He reinvents the Great American Songbook with a sure soft touch; he lavishes his remarkable gifts on a project he calls "precious." Nature Boy is a classic-and classy-in every respect.

"Jazz," says the four-time GRAMMY® winner, "was as much a part of my musical education as blues or funk. He continues, "Dad loved Nat Cole's brand of jazz. Nat was his favorite singer and 'Nature Boy' his favorite song. I sing it in tribute to him, a man who inspired his children."

The album was produced by Rob Mounsey, and features an all-star lineup of musicians, including Roy Hargrove, Grady Tate, Ron Carter, Michael Brecker, Ry Cooder, and Anthony Wilson. Says Neville, "These are some bad cats. They got the mood just right. For me, jazz is all about mood. Jazz is all about standards that are connected to your soul, connected to your life."

Linda Ronstadt, with whom Neville has collaborated in the past, most notably on the hit "Don't Know Much," appears here on a special duet. Says Neville, "Of all the lady singers out there, Linda Ronstadt is in a category of her own. There's no one I'd rather sing with. It's especially cool to be doing a classic like 'The Very Thought of You' with Linda. Like Ray and Aretha, Linda crosses over to any material that strikes her fancy. I love how we blend."

Other songs included on Nature Boy include "Cry Me a River," "The Shadow of Your Smile," and "Our Love Is Here to Stay."

"To be singing these chestnuts -- Gershwin's 'Summertime,' Porter's 'In the Still of the Night' -- brings me back to my parents. These were the songs they danced to. These were the songs of my youth. That's why I love 'Blame It on My Youth' and the line that says, 'I believe in everything... like a child of three.' I always say that my voice is a mixture of the strength and wisdom of my father, the love and tenderness of my mother, and the innocence of my childhood. My folks taught me that music, love and God are all one thing. So in singing these standards-these romantic songs that get prettier with each passing year-I feel more than an earthly love. I feel the force of God, the spirit of all love."

Born January 24, 1941, Aaron is the third of the four famous Neville Brothers of New Orleans. A product of that city's richly complex musical culture, his first vocal model was older brother Art, keyboardist and founder of the Meters. Brother Charles played sax with B.B. King while brother Cyril became Aaron's partner in a funk band they called the Soul Machine.

Throughout the sixties Aaron recorded for local Louisiana labels, but it wasn't until 1966 that he broke onto the national scene with "Tell It Like It Is," the plaintive ballad that went #1 on the pop charts, a song still considered a classic in the annals of American music. Issued on the obscure Par-Lo Records, the hit unfortunately coincided with the label's demise. With no follow-up and few royalties, Aaron's career stalled. Beset by demons both professional and personal, he struggled for the next ten years.

Aaron and Cyril gigged with various obscure groups in New York before returning to New Orleans in 1976 for the recording of The Wild Tchoupitoulas, the landmark album celebrating the Indian tribe whose leader, George (Big Chief Jolly) Landry, was the brothers' beloved uncle and prime musical/spiritual inspiration. For the first time, all four Neville brothers recorded together.

Since then, the Nevilles have released a string of hit albums both as a group and as solo artists, establishing themselves as premiere musicians of their generation.

Nature Boy [440 065 633-2] available on CD and SACD August 26, 2003

Aaron Neville links:

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