*“It’s a series of projects,” said producer Atron Gregory about the “Sunrise” single release from his “The Solo Piano Group” (TNT Recordings) project. “It’s a collection of musicians I know. It’s Neo-Classical…a new-age style of music.”
Gregory explained that normally African-American musicians and artists are not mentioned when referring to this style genre, but according to Atron we are present. His goal is to highlight black musicians that play Neo-Classical and introduce the genre to a new audience. Known for helping to pioneer Hip-Hop music as manager and producer via his TNT Recordings and Management company, Atron Gregory help launch the careers of some of the most notable Hip-Hop artists and groups of our time, such as Tupac Shakur and MC Smooth, and one of the Jazz world’s pioneers – Stanley Clark.
“It’s to commemorate all the African-American pianists,” he said about why his label decided to embrace the Neo-Classical genre. “I didn’t believe it, that there were no (Neo-Classical) labels…independent…as part of our culture.”
Neo-Classical is any style of music influenced by classical music (Mozart and Beethoven). It’s about doing more with less. It’s shorter than classical selections with an emphasis on complex rhythms. It uses an array of tones that are not necessarily in harmony on acoustic instruments that provide an electronic sound, such as with synthesizers. Atron is familiar with all types of music which has included Hip-Hop, Jazz, R&B and Gospel. So I guess you can say Neo-Classical is where Classical music and Jazz meets.
“The Solo Piano Group” album’s single releases are “Bedtime Lullaby” by pianist Derek McKinney on March 20, 2020; “Mellow Moods” by pianist Janice Maxine Reid on May 8th; “Sunrise” by pianist Glen Pearson on July 17th, and “Peace and Love” by pianist Michaela Overall on August 14th.
“I live in the Bay area. He (Glen Pearson) is my Bay area connection,” Atron said about Glen whose single was released at the time of my interview. “Bill Bell, head of music at the College of Alameda…spawn many entertainers and when it was time for him to retire, Glen decided he was tired of touring and took his place – he had a relationship with Professor Bell.”
Professor Bill Bell was known as The Jazz Professor and he helped mold many African-American musicians and artists into icons, such as Lou Rawls and The Supremes. Glen Pearson’s credits are just as impressive with a long history touring as pianist for the Count Basie Orchestra and scoring for the History Channel. He was the musical director of the Boys Choir of Harlem and pianist for Regina Belle, Melba Moore, Will Downing and Gerald Albright. His skills also landed him gigs on Broadway in shows that starred Gregory Hines, Arthur Miller and Patrick Stewart.
“My first introduction into music was as tour manager. Janice (Maxine Reid) was on the tour. She later became a teacher – Ledisi is one of her students. She teaches vocals and piano,” he pointed out. “‘The Solo Piano Group’ is me introducing our community to Neo-Classical new-age music. I want to introduce musicians to opportunities within that music genre, because it (the music) calms and sooths.”
Atron Gregory’s label TNT Recordings and Management was established in 1988. It played a major role in making the music of the Hip-Hop culture a well excepted genre and lifestyle; propelling artists to household-name status alongside Def Jam, Ruthless Records and Death Row Records. TNT Recordings and Management credits include the works of four-time Grammy nominated Tupac Shakur; 12-time Grammy nominated/three-time Grammy winner Jazz bass player Stanley Clark; two-time Grammy nominated Jazz pianist Rodney Franklin; American Music Award nominated N. W. A. (Niggaz With Attitudes) on Ruthless Records, noted as pioneers of Gangsta Rap which consisted of DJ Yella, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Eazy E and MC Ren; MTV Music Video Award and Grammy Award nominated Digital Underground which was formed by Shock G, Money B and Chop Master, and included – at one time or another – Kel Mitchell, Mack, Mystic, Saafir, DJ Fuze, and J Beats with Tupac acting as hype-man and background vocalist, and World Class Wreckin’ Cru, a group of aspiring DJs and MCs, formed by DJ Alonzo Williams (Eve After Dark night club owner) which also featured DJ Yella and Dr. Dre, with Michel’le as featured vocalists. TNT Management still handles Shock G of Digital Underground, Digital Underground, the catalog of Johnny “Guitar” Watson, and FGW Productions which provides content for Universal Pictures, Warner Bros, Paramount and Disney. All of these achievements are proof that Atron Gregory has the ability to make Neo-Classical an accepted genre by African-Americans and the African-American musicians of the genre household names in all communities starting with release of “The Solo Piano Group” project. www.TNT-Recordings.com
SYNDICATED COLUMN: Eunice Moseley, MS, MBA, MPhil has an estimated weekly readership of over ¼ million with The Pulse of Entertainment. She is also a Public Relations Strategist and Business Management Consultant at Freelance Associates, and is Promotions Director (at-large) for The Baltimore Times. www.ThePulseofEntertainment.com. EVENTS: “Uplifting Minds II” Entertainment Conference (ULMII), founded by Eunice in 1999, is into its 21st year. Next events are coming to Los Angeles Saturday, November 7, 2020 via Zoom Video Conferencing and to Baltimore Saturday April 17, 2021 at Security Square Mall. The ULMII event is a free conference offering an Entertainment Business Panel Q&A Session, a Talent Showcase and Talent Competition (vocal, songwriting, dance and acting) where aspiring artists have a chance to receive over $15,000 valued in prizes/product/services. Log onto www.UpliftingMinds2.com for more information or to RSVP for Zoom Access email [email protected]