First Listen: All-Star band Freelance delivers big R&B sounds

(June 21, 2018) Two words come to mind when I think about freelancers – freedom and struggle. Freelancers set their own rules. They go out and they find jobs and the make arrangements in terms of payment, deadlines and the like. Freelancers work for themselves, often deciding when work starts and when it ends. Freelancing can be very liberating. Freelancing can also be very difficult. You’re the boss and while that means you have nobody to answer to, you also have no one to look to.

The band Freelance, comprised of founder Smithoneon on vocals, keyboardist and fellow founder Ausar the Ambassador, saxophonist Craig Hill, guitarist Yasser Tejada, drummer bassist Justin Tyson David “DJ” Ginyard fully embrace both aspects freelance – as can be heard in their free-wheeling, funk/jazz opus “Your Love.” The track is one of 13 featured on their new album Yes Today, which dropped last month.

The members of this sextet possess a have instrument will travel attitude. They’ve performed with the likes of Robert Glasper, Esperanza Spalding and Solange – just to name a few. However, in keeping with their band name, these players’ need to stretch out musically, lyrically and thematically could not be met while working for somebody else.

“Your Love” highlights the range and depth that Freelance brings to their work. The track finds Smithoneon coming forth in a vocal style that his intimate, conversational and passionate as he tries to convince a young lady to release her past relationship hang-ups and embrace the future. The track features shifts in pace and tone as it moves from a funk influenced ballad to an up-tempo jazz/funk fusion number. And while “Your Love” will remind many of some of Earth, Wind & Fire’s experimental jazz fusion numbers from the early and mid-70s, the cut does not feel dated. It feels great. Check it out here.

By Howard Dukes


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