The past two weeks in our artist groups feature I have talked about staying power and longevity of those groups that have the right stuff to remain popular for a great length of time. Well we certainly have another of those groups Pieces Of A Dream, popular now for over 40 years. The group was formed in 1976 in Philadelphia by bassist Cedric Napoleon, drummer Curtis Harmon, and keyboardist James Lloyd when they were teenagers. They first started playing throughout the Philadelphia area, and were soon featured on Temple University’s pioneering jazz radio station,They were swinging so hard as teenagers that the great Count Basie once proclaimed them “a tough act to follow but it was another jazz legend, the late Grover Washington Jr., the sax man who made Philadelphia his home, who helped Pieces of a Dream become the internationally known stars they are today. Their experience widened as they played backup on the broadcasts to a wide variety of artists, and that’s where Washington first heard them. One day while the teenagers were playing at the Bijou (where Grover had recorded his Live at the Bijou album), he sat in with them to play his classic song “Mr. Magic.”
Soon Washington announced that he was starting a production company and that Pieces of a Dream would be his first act. Lloyd was only a senior in high school when his first record was released.
“That felt awesome,” recalls Lloyd. “Not just having an album out, but going all over the world touring and performing with Grover.”
From 1981 to 1984, Pieces of a Dream built their reputation with three albums that would come to define the musical essence of the smooth jazz radio explosion.
By 2009 the youthful exuberance of those Philly kids from the mid-‘70s was still very much alive in the release of their album Soul Intent. This album gets back to the basics of Pieces Of A Dream’s original songwriting and recording philosophy by reconnecting to the band’s original live-in-the-studio approach and maximizing the most fundamental and enduring components of the Pieces experience. It also shows their continuing ability to be innovative that has greatly contributed to their continuing popularity and keeps Pieces of a Dream fresh and authentic in a jazz world that’s ever-changing. “We will always be true to ourselves and our roots,” says keyboardist Lloyd, “and at the same time try to stay in touch with the time.
I will play Billboard’s top three songs in smooth jazz this week.
Our expanded new releases segment featuring the absolute latest in smooth jazz, includes brand new 2018 releases not previously played on this program. We begin with a double listen to a April 27th release of the album Just Being Me by guitarist Nick Colionne. His previous album The Journey produced a smooth jazz record of five billboard number one songs. Other new releases are a vocal from Basia, the sax of Vincent Ingala, and the guitar of Chris Standring.
In the second hour we will hear from Diana Krall, Tim Weisberg, Keiko Matsui, Peter White, Euge Groove, Richard Elliot, more Pieces Of A Dream, The Sax Pack, Craig Chaquico, and Grover Washington Jr.
Our conclusion is my favorite song from Pieces Of A Dream, a great song to dance to, Steppers D Lite.