If you are a fan of Music in Isolation you know that we love our Indie rock, Hard rock and singer songwriters. This time we are going to change it up a bit and focus on the well respected genre that is Jazz. Believe it or not, we love a bit of smooth Jazz, there are times when after a long day of work I like to pour myself a glass of scotch, close my eyes and listen to some smooth brass music. I usually look to Gregory Porter or Jamie Cullum for this but finding a new jazz artist is always a treat, say hello to Jullian Hartwell.
Originally from Birmingham Alabama but now living in Philadelphia, Jullian started playing the piano around eleven years old and was lucky to have a teacher in the neighbourhood that lived down the street from him, this pretty much hooked him on jazz and he has never looked back. Julian has always tried to make his brand of jazz friendlier, more accessible than the kind of jazz a lot of people associate the genre with, for example, screeching, angry saxophones. With the added difficulty of selling mostly instrumental music in the current landscape, his writing tries to draw people in right away so there isn't much of a wall between listener and artist, good thing his upbeat feel-good music is doing that.
Having been inspired by artists existing in that cross-over space like Snarky Puppy, Jacob Collier, Theo Croker, Robert Glasper, Roy Hargrove and especially his RH Factor. Jullian has come up with an album that is musically sensational. Titled LYVELIFE, the five track album is smooth and elegant everything modern jazz should be like fine wine the sophistication of each instrument is tremendous. With three tracks featuring vocals from the very talented artist in their own right, it gives the album a lot of range. Jullian explains to me his relationship with them,
"The vocalists that I feature on LYVELIFE are a few of my favourites from the local music scene that I thought not only fit the sound and vibe I was going for but deserve more attention in their own right. I’ve worked with V. Shayne on a few gigs, and he’s been really making his own imprint on the scene here lately..but Stephanie Cole is more in the indie space and I wanted to highlight her awesome style and knew that “Now Is” was the perfect vehicle for that. Same for Gary…when I was thinking of a smooth, male RnB crooner for “Mornin’ Luv” I actually considered a few folks, but I knew him and his renditions of some Stevie Wonder tunes from a jam session in town that used to happen, and things just fell into place getting him to sing on that track for me”; the connections you make in music are just fantastic.
If I had to pick one song out of LYVELIFE the one that draws my attention is ‘Now is’. Stephanie’s vocals are a perfect fit for the music and the decision to get her on this track was a masterstroke form Jullian. This duo reminds me of the dynamic Amy Winehouse had with Mark Ronson on ‘Valerie’. There is a beautiful brass section right in the middle of the track. It takes you back to the underground of the old jazz clubs of yesteryear and I love that. One thing I will say is if Jullian and his band ever make there way to the UK I’ll have tickets and we think you should too. Check out LYVELIFE below and enjoy.