The consummate musician, producer, arranger, songwriter and artist in his own right, Wayne Linsey’s list of credits reads like a who’s who in contemporary music. Legendary names like Miles Davis, Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder are among the plethora of artists with whom the L.A.-based maestro has worked on stage and in the recording studio. Super producers like Kenneth ‘Babyface’ Edmonds and hitmakers like Whitney Houston and Earth, Wind & Fire always call Wayne to work on their projects; as a touring musician, Wayne spent many years with the ever-popular band Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, lending his distinctive and soulful touch as the primary keyboardist to the group’s energetic live show.
While he maintains a non-stop schedule of touring and studio work, Wayne’s focus in 2009 is his first solo project: “As a professional, I’ve been blessed to work with every artist of my dreams. I also see the purpose of my gift to provoke thought and enjoyment through my own music.” In keeping with an array of personal musical influences – which include Duke Ellington, Parliament, Oscar Peterson, Donny Hathaway, Wonder, Beverly and Davis – Wayne’s new project runs the gamut from jazz and R&B to world music and rap: “The album is not based on one dimension stylistically,” he notes. “Diversity is important to me. There’s enough material on the CD for the smooth jazz market: as an instrumentalist, that can be your only outlet for radio. But I didn’t approach this album the way the industry usually does by favoring one musical style…” As a multi-talented instrumentalist, Wayne plays keyboards, guitar, bass and drums on the record; special guest players include trombonist Fred Wesley, Bobby Brown, Michael ‘Patches’ Stewart on trumpet, saxophonist Kenny Garrett, drummer Teddy Campbell., Kevin Ricard on percussion, Hiram Bullock, Paul Jackson Jr., John “Jubu” Smith & Tariqh Akoni on guitars and vocalists Leon Ware, Louis Price Jr., Lamont Van Hook, Sy Smith and Wayne’s former wife, artist in her own right, Lynne Fiddmont, among others.
Incorporating funky grooves, soulful slow jams and pieces with topical lyrical messages and including “Bookendz,” a tune originally commissioned by Miles Davis which appears on his live recordings as “Wayne’s Tune,” Wayne’s new CD, “A Song Without Words,” reflects the broad spectrum of music he’s mastered since his early days studying at Washington DC’s Howard University.His obvious talent as a drummer and pianist earned him a full scholarship to the prestigious school and his own Wayne Linsey Trio drew a loyal following in and around the D.C. area. It wasn’t long before Wayne was hired to work as a musician with R&B bands such as Starpoint and after relocating to Los Angeles, word-of-mouth quickly spread resulting in shows with Aretha, Wonder and Beverly. With the nickname ’Ziggy,’ Wayne was an integral member of Maze for many years; in between tours with the band, he also performed frequently on the road with Whitney Houston while session work included dates with everyone from Diana Ross, Chaka Khan, Yolanda Adams and Nancy Wilson to The Jacksons, James Ingram, Stanley Clarke, Terrence Trent D’Arby and Bobby Brown. Wayne is also the man who named popular jazz saxophonist, "Boney James".In 1991, Wayne and Lynne recorded their first critically-acclaimed album, “Perfect Love” for Virgin Records, earning much praise from music buyers on both sides of the Atlantic; in 1992, the duo released the single “Power To The People” on their own Way’Lyn Records.
Much appreciated by U.K. audiences in particular, Wayne’s sterling work was recognized when readers of Britain’s popular “Blues & Soul” magazine honored him with a 1992 “Best Songwriter’s Award.”Since that time, Wayne’s musical dexterity has brought increased work in the television and film area: he contributed to Robert Townsend’s popular “Five Heartbeats” movie, worked on “Motown Live” & “Fame” with longtime friend Ricky Minor and in 2003, created music for the Fox network’s “Cedric The Entertainer” show, and can be seen regularly on this season’s “American Idol” as a member of “The Rickey Minor Band”. Asked on a regular basis to perform at music industry veteran Clive Davis’ famed pre-Grammy party, Wayne has also played on the BET Awards, The Essence Awards, The NAACP Image Awards, The Grammys, The Billboard Awards, “The UNCF An Evening of Stars” where he was featured with Nancy Wilson. Wayne was also called on to fill the piano shoes of the late “Ray Charles” in the television tribute “Genius – A Night For Ray”.
Whether on the road with smooth jazz artist Chris Botti, featured with Babyface on his “MTV Unplugged” album, in the studio with the likes of Earth, Wind & Fire one day and new neo-soul artist Donnie the next or playing as part of the band for “American Idol” Wayne Linsey’s skills make him one of the most in-demand musicians in the industry. His personal commitment to excellence is evident with “A Playa’s Gotta Play,” a project he created out of his desire to see “musicians come together outside of our normal professional working environment and just have a great time together.” Formerly held monthly at LA’s “Café Cordiale”, “A Playa’s Gotta Play” has become a much anticipated event. So far, the concept has spawned to well-receive shows in Los Angeles with top musicians such as Chaka Khan, Denise Williams, Musiq Soulchild, Randy Crawford, Fred Wesley, Phil Upchurch, Victor Bailey of Weather Report and legendary guitarist Hiram Bullock. Beyond his stellar work with others, Wayne is excited about the next chapter in a career filled with accomplishment and achievement: “For me, music is not merely about entertaining but comes out of the sense of a calling in life and that calling is what is leading me to do my own record.”
For those familiar with his recorded work with Lynne as part of the duo Linsey as well as countless music lovers who have witnessed him in action on stage with some of the world’s greatest entertainers, the prospect of the first Wayne Linsey solo project is indeed thrilling and no more so than for the man himself: “I know it’s past due and a lot of folks have been asking when I’d do my own record but everything happens in its own right time,” he says philosophically, “and I guess the time is now!” Wayne’s new CD “A Song Without Words” is now finished and available for purchase.
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