Chazz Dixon - The Message (2016)

Chazz Dixon
chazzdixon-message.jpg
Click on CD cover
to listen or purchase

Chazz Dixon – The Message

The Message, the latest album by Chazz Dixon, the smooth Chicago crooner who embodies the romantic male singer that has been a soul music staple going back to the halcyon days of Smokey Robinson, is a record for the steppers.

Making a steppers record in a town such as Detroit or Chicago is a sure fire way for an artist to get some recognition, and it is definitely a way for Dixon to carve out a niche away from singing Motown covers. And when a vocalist such as Dixon occupies the same vocal space as the legendary Robinson, the he’s going to be asked to do a whole lot of renditions of “Tracks of My Tears.” A man’s gotta eat, so it would be understandable if Dixon succumbed to that temptation.

Chazz Dixon – The Message

The Message, the latest album by Chazz Dixon, the smooth Chicago crooner who embodies the romantic male singer that has been a soul music staple going back to the halcyon days of Smokey Robinson, is a record for the steppers.

Making a steppers record in a town such as Detroit or Chicago is a sure fire way for an artist to get some recognition, and it is definitely a way for Dixon to carve out a niche away from singing Motown covers. And when a vocalist such as Dixon occupies the same vocal space as the legendary Robinson, the he’s going to be asked to do a whole lot of renditions of “Tracks of My Tears.” A man’s gotta eat, so it would be understandable if Dixon succumbed to that temptation.

Still, the only concession Dixon has made over a long and active career is to plant himself firmly in the grown folks’ music lane. Creating music for the steppers set makes sense. Stepping is a form of urban ballroom dancing that has long been popular in cities in the Midwest. The best steppers move in the same kind of rhythmic coordination as dancers who tango or foxtrot.

Stepping and steppers music is an acquired taste, and Dixon had the wisdom to also include tunes that are not necessarily geared to the steppers on The Message. The album features ballads such as “Say Alright,” and it is on tracks such as this one that Dixon’s phrasing and vocal range is most reminiscent of Robinson.

Perhaps the best and most interesting track on The Message is “Nowhere To Run,” a percussive funk number that possesses an insistent beat guaranteed to get heads bobbing. The mid-tempo “Come Look My Way” is the best of the steppers cuts because it is the one that comes the closest to capturing the Motown sound both in terms of the backing harmonies and the swinging funk James Jamerson inspired bass line.

“Kukoo” falls somewhere between a steppers cut and a ballad, and finds Dixon falling into a conversational style of vocal as he describes the qualities that his woman possesses that he finds attractive, even in their quirkiness.

While The Message is clearly aimed at the steppers crowd, and will appeal most to them, other listeners will probably gravitate toward the album’s more R&B oriented fare. And The Message contains enough of those cuts to give people looking for classic soul to funk more than their share of choices. It’s another solid addition to a singer who has been giving his all to the Windy City for a long time. Recommended.

By Howard Dukes

 
SoulTracks Choice Cut - Toni Redd - "Underneath My Skin"
Song of the Month - Stokley - "Level"
CD of the Month - Phil Perry - Breathless
Sneak Peek - Raul Midon - Bad Ass and Blind

Leave a comment!