Sunday 31 March 2013

Delightful: Liberation Frequency meets... Saunders Sermons [Interview]

Originally published on in July 2010

Written by Imran Mirza

Coming dangerously close to having crept under Liberation Frequency's radar, is Saunders Sermons' debut album, 'Classic Delight'.  Quiet as it's kept, this gem, released independently in 2009, is the work of a true master of his craft, and the singer/trombonist has a resume' as equally impressive.  Boasting collaborations and racking up touring duties with R&B, soul and hip-hop's elite, Sermons can add Jill Scott, Mary J Blige, Maxwell, Diddy and Jay-Z to the list of luminaries he's been blessed to grace a stage with, so it was certainly a pleasure for us to be able to secure time with Saunders to discuss his musical accomplishments so far, as well as his debut album.

Born and raised in Miami, Florida, Sermons has been singing since he was 5 years old, and playing trombone since he was 11, "I really thought that the Trombone was really beautiful at an early age so I gravitated to it".  Citing his musical heroes as including Prince and D'Angelo, Sermons was initially drawn to music through R&B, until the allure of jazz and its standards, as performed by the likes of Nat King Cole and Duke Ellington, proved too powerful and has gone on to heavily influence the music on Sermons' debut release.  Such masters are revisited on two of the album's tracks, 'In A Sentimental Mood' (initially recorded by Ellington in 1935) and 'Straighten Up And Fly Right' (recorded by Nat King Cole in 1944): "The reason I picked the Nat and Duke songs was because I wanted to hear how I would do it and I had a lot of fun revisiting the songs".

The aforementioned savants are perfect selections and examples of the level and quality of elegance that Sermons strives to replicate through his music, and although covers make a fair share of this release, Sermons' own songwriting skills are fully demonstratable on songs like, 'Most Beautiful', 'Day Dreaming' and the album's show-stealing number, 'Don't You Understand': "What inspired me to do this album was first I'm a big fan of jazz vocalists so I wanted to put together something really classy that would be noted as a modern day classic."

Lush arrangements and rich instrumentation are sprinkled all over this release as Sermons is backed by a wonderfully talented selection of musicians, and expert direction from Jon Notar.  Casey Benjamin (formerly of alternative duo HEAVy) brings his saxophone along to guest on the album also, as does trumpeter, Lee Hogans.

The biggest flaw with the album though is its length.  Clocking in at the criminally short time of less than 30 minutes, you're genuinely left yearning for more, so hopefully we'll be rubbing our hands together with glee for a swift follow-up to this classic delight.

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