Michael Manson - UP FRONT
"Up Front" is the much anticipated new release, from legendary bassist Michael Manson. With his current single, "Comin Right At Ya" already bulleting up the Smooth Jazz Charts, demand for this release is already building. Michael has put together some of his best friends to create this new release. The album features such industry stalwarts as Rick Braun, Paul Jackson Jr., Norman Brown, Kirk Whalum, Tom Braxton, Steve Cole, Jeff Lorber and many others. This looks to be Michael’s greatest success yet.
"I wish I could turn on the radio today and find a station that can guarantee all their music will sound as good as Michael Manson's." - Pop Matters
On Michael Manson’s CD “Just Feelin’ It,” he is credited for writing and production. For this album Michael has collected the who's who of Smooth Jazz: Rick Braun, Kirk Whalum, Jeff Lorber, Brian Culbertson, Nelson Range, Norman Brown, Paul Jackson Jr., the legendary George Duke and many more great jazz musicians. This album is a great mix of contemporary jazz, R&B and even a little gospel.
With the release of his previous CD “The Bottom Line,” Michael Manson joined the ranks of today’s premiere jazz artists. His first single “Outer Drive” reached the top 10 on the R&R Smooth Jazz. Bass-master Michael Manson moved from sideman to center-stage on his solo debut “The Bottom Line.” His passion and precision are displayed with both unrelenting power and laid-back grace on the album that, he says, “reflects the deepest expression of all I have felt making music for the last twenty years.”
For Michael Manson the bottom line has always been great music. Since he first picked up a guitar (not a bass), he has moved persistently from strength to strength, one association leading inevitably to another in a career that has brought him front and center with the most esteemed names in jazz, gospel, R&B, rock and pop. Manson's uniquely lyrical voice has its roots in Chicago, Illinois. He recalls, "My grandmother and mother played piano, but no one else in the family was really involved in music. My dad had an old beat-up folk guitar that he never picked up and so my older brother and I got interested in music about the same time-I was fourteen-and started playing it. After that, we bugged my mom to buy us some instruments. She finally bought my brother a guitar and me a $25.00 bass and a $25.00 amp that we shared".
Returning to Chicago State University, he joined the Chicago State Gospel Choir and, in Manson's words, "things started snowballing." One gig or association would lead to another, with Manson playing with one Gospel great after another: Tramaine Hawkins, Vanessa Bell Armstrong, Jessy Dixon and James Cleveland. He even played on the Winan's album”All Out,” only the first of many times he would perform with childhood musical heroes. After his graduation from Chicago State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Music, he went on to complete a Masters in Music Performance at Northwestern University.
That same year, one of his gospel connections put him together with Kirk Whalum, and he ended up playing on the Dove and Stellar-Award nominated "The Gospel According To Jazz." Recorded live at the Roy Acuff theatre, it featured Whalum, George Duke and Paul Jackson Jr. "That's how I met George Duke in '97," quips Manson.
Manson's association with George Duke ultimately led to the gig of a lifetime. George, who was the musical director and a featured artist on the Montreux Jazz tour (summer of 2000), invited Manson onboard, where he shared the stage with his greatest childhood hero, Al Jarreau, along with David Sanborn, Roberta Flack and Joe Sample. Pal Kirk Whalum said with typical good humor, "After that tour you could have retired." But Manson is just getting started.
Through Kirk, he met Larry Carlton and toured with him before and after his chart-topping Fingerprints album. Kirk also included him on his "Hymns In The Garden" album that garnered a nomination for Best Pop Instrumental Album at this years Grammys. Manson has shared the stage with Warner Bros. Records artists Larry Carlton, Kirk Whalum, Boney James, Rick Braun, Kenny Garret, George Duke and Kevin Mahogany. Other Warner artists featured on the album included Fourplay (with bassist Nathan East), Bob James and Gabriel Anders. Released in October of 2000 to critical acclaim, it is being followed by a DVD release in 2001.
Manson as an artist was honored @ the 2003 Smooth Jazz Awards , nonminated in two categories , Best New Artist and Bassist of the Year. For Michael Manson, love of musical communication, exploration, collaboration and celebration is clearly what it’s all about. This sophomore release reflects Manson’s unabating passion with joy and inspired artistry, “There are musical conversations that are intriguing and I hope the audience shares in that. But it is just great for musicians to communicate in thai way. That’s the joy of music. To make great music like that every night, that’s what it’s all about.”