Not much is said about Motown subsidiary label, MoJazz.

I couldn't find too much anyway, however--I discovered Impromp2,
J. Spencer, Wayman Tisdale and Norman Brown back in the 90's
before the label folded and the sound quality of the productions
through this company are impeccable! Impromp2, for instance--JAMS!

Impromp2 Gallery - Large Image


Unique, distinctive, singular, peerless. Four words that come close to describing the art of Impromp2, the brainchild of the multi-talented, multi-faceted musical partners, Johnny ("Johnny B") Britt and Sean ("Sean E. Mac") Thomas whose combination of jazz, soul and rap have set them apart from virtually any other contemporary duos, or groups. Since the release of their acclaimed 1995 MoJazz debut ("You’re Gonna Love It"), Impromp2 has been building a global following of music lovers who appreciate the smooth and memorable grooves along with the sensual slow jams that are at the core of the team’s artistry.

Three albums after that initial outing, Impromp2 is back with a new collection of music that will satisfy listeners worldwide who have long appreciated the duo’s musicality while winning over new converts to this one-of-a-kind team’s soulful sound. Released on its own JCS Records, IT IS WHAT IT IS offers eleven new Impromp2 compositions, a brilliant rendition of Marvin Gaye’s “You Sure Love To Ball” and a distinguished all-star cast of special guests including Take 6, Boney James, Marcus Miller, George Duke, Norman Brown, Harvey Mason, Paul Jackson Jr. and Wayman Tisdale.

Explains Sean, “This album represents our evolution as recording artists. We were getting to know each other when we were making the first record, creating the Impromp2 sound. Our second MoJazz album (1997’s "Can’t Get Enough") was influenced by Motown who wanted us to do a more 'commercial' kind of record. "Definition Of Love"(released in 2003 on the independent Big 3 label) took us back to what we did with the first one and while we were very happy with the direction of it, it didn’t get the exposure we’d hoped for. We took a break to spend time with our families, to work on other musical projects. We got back together in late 2006 to begin writing songs and recording this new album."

Adds Johnny, "For this record, we’re absolutely on the same page, spiritually, mentally, musically. What I mean is that when we first met in 1993, we thought it would be really special to do something together, to create something unique that would be a combination of the spoken word, R&B and jazz. The raw and natural chemistry we started with has been developing, being refined and now we instinctively know each other musically. I’d say we’ve both matured in many ways – as men, as people. Making IT IS WHAT IT IS has been really beautiful: the ideas have been flowing, we put our blood, sweat and tears into it and now it’s extremely exciting to be doing this on our own label, without any pressure, taking our time to let it happen…"

The mesmerizing "I Wanna Know" (featuring renowned guitarist Norman Brown and Herman Jackson on fender rhodes) reflects, Impromp2’s commitment to musical excellence. Explains Sean, "We wanted to revisit the 'feel good' sound of "Summer Nights" which was one of the most popular tracks on our first album. Steve ('The Scotsman') Harvey who produced that first CD is on it along with musicians like Ndugu Chancler and Sekou Bunche"

The title track (with special guest Paul Jackson Jr. on guitar) is another prime example. Says Johnny, “This is one of the first songs I played for Sean as we were preparing the album. It’s got that ‘night time’ flavor and it’s got a kind of timeless quality to it.

That same smooth’n’easy quality is evident on other cuts like “Good Thang” which Sean says “is reminiscent of “Enjoy Yourself” from the “You’re Gonna Love It” album,” while “Keep Doin” (which features special guest George Duke) evokes nights of sensuality, romance and passion.

Impromp2’s choice to revisit Marvin Gaye’s classic “You Sure Love To Ball” is a natural, given Johnny’s own vocal style and sound: “Actually, Sean was the one who came up with the idea and we think it works.” Special guests on the track include super bassist Marcus Miller and sax man Boney James, who has recorded some notable Britt compositions including #1 “R&R” hit singles " The Total Experience (featuring George Duke) and "Grand Central" as well as "I'll Always Love You" (featuring Shai) penned by Johnny & Sean.

One of the standouts on IT IS WHAT IT IS is the star-studded cut “Mojazz,” a tribute to one of the original Motown label’s artists, the late J. Spencer. “We said, ‘let’s write a song that could be like a reunion for those of us who were on the MoJazz label. We got Norman Brown and Wayman Tisdale and then we brought in Boney, George (Duke) and Harvey Mason among others,” says Sean.

With its great synthesis of jazz, funk and rap, “Mojazz” in many exemplifies the Impromp2 ‘sound,’ evident throughout IT IS WHAT IT IS and in particular on cuts like “Dance With You” and the mellow “I Wanna Marry You” (the inspiration for which came from Johnny’s wife coming back from church one Sunday), a cut that features Marcus Miller.

Moving into another musical genre, the beautifully orchestrated “It Was Love” (written by Johnny’s wife, a Christian music songwriter) is an inspirational gospel song. “We want to include at least one song like this on all of our albums going forward. Our faith is part of who we are and it’s important for us to share that through our music,” says Johnny.

Rounding out the new CD, “It Is What It Is!” is the duo’s way of clarifying what Impromp2 is all about: “There’s a misconception that we’re a jazz group and people sometimes have a hard time describing what we do. Is it jazz? Is it hip-hop? For us, it’s just good music. Why put a label on it? The bottom line is, ‘do you like it?’ We know we have a unique sound,” says Sean. “Whatever you want to call it, so be it!

The unique sound to which Sean refers had its genesis back in 1993 when Cleveland native Johnny Britt (who started his musical journey singing in the church choir and playing trumpet in high school bands before attending the prestigious Conservatory of Music in Versailles, France where he studied trumpet and composition for three years) decided he wanted to create a new sound, fusing his smoky jazz trumpet and romantic soul singing with a like minded rapper. The inspiration for this new musical direction came from hearing Miles Davis’ final/posthumous 1992 studio project, “Doo-Bop,” a collaboration with producer Easy Mo Bee that provided a looking glass into the possibilities of marrying jazz, soul and hip hop in funky fresh ways that could appeal to mature audiences.

After auditioning nearly fifty people, Johnny – who spent three years as musical director for the legendary Temptations – found the perfect musical partner in Sean Thomas, an L.A. native whose early musical influences ranged from The Treacherous Three and Rakim to Stevie Wonder, Prince and Michael Jackson and also included the lyrical poetry of smooth jazz artist Michael Franks. With his brother, Sean formed the group Rappinstine (signed to Ruthless Records) before meeting Johnny (whose credits also included background vocals on Luther Vandross’ “Songs” album and an appearance in David Bowie’s “Black Tie White Noise” video, syncing parts originally played by the late, great Lester Bowie—a friend).

As Impromp2, Johnny and Sean were among the first artists signed to the then-fledgling MoJazz label and with the release of 1995’s “You’re Gonna Love It,” the duo established their distinctive sound, thanks to positive response to cuts like “Enjoy Yourself,” “Get Me Off” and “Summer Nights.” An instrumental version of the latter was embraced at NAC, Quiet Storm and smooth jazz radio formats, significantly broadening their audience.

Following the 1997 release of Impromp2’s sophomore album, “Can’t Get Enough” (which included production by Eddie F, Big Bub, and Harvey Mason Jr.), MoJazz folded while Impromp2 contnued on performing before former President Bill Clinton at the White House and participating in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. In between visits to the U.K., the Netherlands, The Bahamas and St. Lucia, the duo performed at various venues in the U.S. including The Essence Music Festival and Magic Johnson’s Mardi Gras.

The release of the group’s third album, “Definition Of Love” represented a welcome return to the marketplace and now, the 2007 release of IT IS WHAT IT IS is sure to please longtime supporters of this pioneering musical group. In the drivers’ seat with the creation of their own JCS label, Johnny and Sean see unlimited possibilities with the planned release of a jazz version of the new album in the 2nd quarter of 2008. “We want to show that we can do it all,” both multi-talented men agree. Indeed with its trademark smooth grooves, Impromp2’s latest work continues the tradition the duo established back in ’95, providing tasteful music that brings together the very best in jazz, rap and R&B, presented track by track, with soulful excellence.


Then there's Wayman Tisdale




Sometimes a word can mean one thing your entire life, and then circumstances alter to provide a totally different interpretation.

For NBA-icon-turned-musical-star Wayman Tisdale, rebound meant to grab possession of a basketball during a game.

But in 2007, that all changed. Tisdale was diagnosed with bone cancer after he fell down a flight of steps and broke his leg. Knee replacement surgery and months of chemotherapy followed. And rebound took on a new significance once his right leg was amputated right above the knee in 2008.

As many before him, he came through the disease with a renewed perspective: “It really showed me what’s important in life, man. It’s not getting as many houses as I can, not driving the biggest cars,” he says. “What’s important is family and being healthy.”

That reinvigorated joy and sense of purpose pervades Rebound, the bass guitarist’s eighth album and his third on Rendezvous Entertainment. “People are going to feel different after listening to this record. They’re going to be happy. There’s going to be a good feeling,” Tisdale says. “Rebound definitely has a beginning, a body and an ending and that’s what I wanted to do. That’s why the record starts with the song ‘Rebound,’ to capture people and bring them in. A Japanese voice before the second verse of ‘Rebound’ says ‘I’ve rebounded and you can rebound also.’ That’s what the message is. If I can do it, you can do it.”

Rebound takes the listener on a journey with gratitude as the ultimate destination. Others might, understandably, be angry at God for the illness, but Tisdale feels nothing but thanks and praise. “He didn’t have to allow the bone to break, a lot of people find out too late,” Tisdale says. “I look at everything from a spiritual standpoint, my father being a Baptist minister before he passed. Through your toughest times, you’re going to find out who you are as a person and I got to really see what type of person I am.”

That spirit is expressed on CD closer “Grateful,” stirringly delivered by gospel great Marvin Sapp. “When he was a newcomer in gospel group Commission, he used to stay at my house and sleep in the Lazy Boy,” Tisdale recalls with a robust laugh. “I needed somebody to complete this record and I couldn’t think of a better person than Marvin. I knew he would give it the emotion and really bring it home the way it needed to be brought home and he did a beautiful job.”

Another old friend—and fellow Oklahoman-- Toby Keith also makes an appearance. In his self-appointed role of “Ambassador of Old School," Tisdale covers an R&B classic on each album. Here, he and Keith team up for the Barry White classic “Never Gonna Give You Up.” “I was literally on the internet looking at a lot of old school songs, listening to Earth, Wind & Fire and some old school Isley Bros., when I got a call and Toby says, I got the song we need to redo: ‘Never Gonna Give You Up.’ It still didn’t register until the studio and I mean, my mouth was wide open. I could not believe what I was hearing! Toby nails it!”

Another highlight is first single, “Throwin’ It Down,” which announces that Tisdale is back in the game. He co-wrote the upbeat, jaunty tune with Darren Rahn, who produced Wayman’s #1 single “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now.” “It’s a good feeling; it’s saying ‘I’m coming out. I’m back.’”
My Crew


Wayman Tisdale, a three-time All-American at Oklahoma who played 12 seasons in the NBA, died after a two-year battle with cancer. He was 44.

Tisdale died Friday morning at St. John Medical Center in Tulsa, hospital spokeswoman Joy McGill said.

He learned of a cancerous cyst below his right knee after breaking his leg in a fall at his home in Los Angeles on Feb. 8, 2007. His leg was amputated last August. He made several public appearances since, including April 7 at an Oklahoma City Thunder game.

Tisdale, a 6-foot-9 forward from Tulsa with a soft left-handed touch, played in the NBA with the Indiana Pacers, Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns. He averaged 15.3 points for his career. He was on the U.S. team that won the gold medal in the 1984 Olympics.

After his basketball career, he became an award-winning jazz musician, with several albums making the top 10 on the Billboard charts. Last month, he was chosen for induction into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.

Tisdale's death was announced on the Oklahoma Senate floor Friday by Senate Majority Leader Todd Lamb, who led the chamber in prayer.

"Whether you're a Cowboy or a Sooner, Oklahoma has lost a great ambassador," Lamb said. "He was a gifted musician, a gifted athlete and he just wore that well wherever he went."

Tisdale was the first freshman to be a first-team All-American since freshmen were allowed to play again in 1971-72.

He was also one of 10 three-time All-Americans: The others were Oscar Robertson, Bill Walton, Lew Alcindor, Pete Maravich, Patrick Ewing, Tom Gola, Jerry Lucas, David Thompson and Ralph Sampson. Ewing and Tisdale were the last to accomplish the feat, from 1983-85.

Tisdale played on an Olympic team that sailed to the gold medal in Los Angeles, winning its game by 32 points. The squad was coached by Bob Knight and featured the likes of Ewing, Michael Jordan, Sam Perkins and Chris Mullin.

Tisdale averaged 25.6 points and 10.1 rebounds during his three seasons with the Sooners, earning Big Eight Conference player of the year each season.

He still holds Oklahoma's career scoring record with 2,661 points and career rebounding record with 1,048. Tisdale also owns the school's single-game scoring mark, a 61-point outing against Texas-San Antonio as a sophomore, along with career records in points per game, field goals and free throws made and attempts.. - See more at: http://www.legacy.com/ns/wayman-tisdale-obituary/127328757#sthash.4...


J. Spencer is amazing....


really had a hard time finding bio info on 'this' talent, but I'll persevere until I do.
You can count on THAT! So stay tuned.
I know I found him in the record shop in the 90's and played him alot on my web pages.
It's a shame he's not more visible. Oh well.



Just listen to his music that I've compiled and you'll readily agree.


All in all

MoJazz
was an excellent vehicle for the drive in these gems!


Enjoy!

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Comment by Edie Antoinette on July 27, 2019 at 11:13am
Comment by Edie Antoinette on February 13, 2010 at 12:40pm
I just found out that Hidden Beach's founder and Chief Executive Officer, Steve McKeever had something to do with MoJazz too. They had a great sound and so does Hidden Beach.
Comment by Edie Antoinette on February 13, 2010 at 12:22pm
Thank you Hoss. I need to make some updates, since Wayman Tisdale has died and J. Spencer was gone when I did the blog but I didn't realize it...*sigh* I'm grateful that you checked it out :=)
Comment by Hoss on February 13, 2010 at 12:13pm
Nicely done Edie. I never knew of this label but, have heard of it's artist. Maybe I should pay closer attention to who's on what label:)
Comment by Edie Antoinette on December 14, 2009 at 11:22pm
Saxophonist dies before his time; family mourns a passionate artist
0 Comments | Oakland Tribune, Jul 16, 2005 | by Katherine Pfrommer, STAFF WRITER

Jeffrey Spencer McCormick, who under the moniker J. Spencer got to live his dream of being a professional musician, died July 9 at his Pleasanton home. He was 36.

Cause of death is still to be determined, family members said.

"He was full of life one day, collapsed the next," brother Harold McCormick III said. "We don't know what happened, it's still a mystery."

Born May 17, 1969, in Berkeley, Mr. McCormick grew up in East Oakland. He graduated from Castlemont High School in 1987.

Music seemed to be his destiny.

"We come from a musical family," Harold McCormick said. "My dad loved jazz and the horn, and Jeff took to it like a fish to water. He started at a very young age -- 7 or 8. He had an aptitude that none of us had. He loved it."
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Friend Mike Spencer agrees.

"Playing sax came natural, he excelled at it," he said. The two met in elementary school and have been as close as brothers ever since. "He got his start right after high school. Getting recognized (at such a young age) is unusual -- unless you're that good."

Athletic growing up, Mr. McCormick was a star basketball player as a teenager. He could also draw -- mostly sketches with pencils -- and over the years he created hundreds of beautiful sketches, his brother said.

"That really translated to his music," he said. "He made his first album at 20. Before that, he played on an En Vogue album. He's been in the business a long time. He was a young veteran."

In 1993, as J. Spencer, Mr. McCormick released "Chimera." Two years later, in 1995, he released "Blue Moon." He was working on a third, and had a number of songs not yet published, his brother said. Critics called his earlier work a mixture of hip-hop and jazz. Mike Spencer, however, describes it differently.

"He played everything, music is music," he said "People in the music world did not necessarily give him enough credit. He was a well-rounded musician. "

"We started out in the early'90s, and had this dream of having bands and being big stars," he added. "It's a dream of every minority kid -- and he got to work at what he wanted. He was dedicated to music."

Mr. McCormick played alto and baritone sax, but soprano sax was his signature horn, his brother said.

"He was phenomenal," he said. "He had his own signature. You know how you can hear a musician and know who it is? That's how he sounds. I've been in places and heard a song, and I knew it was my brother."

Soon after high school, Mr. McCormick met the woman who'd become his wife. Nujan McCormick lived across the country during the first stages in the relationship, and the couple spent hundreds of dollars on long-distance phone calls.

The two had been together for 17 years, married for almost a decade and the parents of one son, 5-year-old Jeff Jr., brother Harold said.

In addition to his brother Harold, Jeffrey McCormick is survived by wife Nujan, son Jeff Jr., and siblings Stephanie, Kathleen, Carlton, Jennifer and James McCormick. Mother Bonnie and father Harold Jr. McCormick preceded him in death.

A public memorial service is scheduled for 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Sunday at Fouche's Husdon Funeral Home, 3665 Telegraph Ave., Oakland.


**************
I am so sorry to hear this. I overlooked it in the bio stuff above. I could kick myself! smh
Comment by Shelley "SoleMann" King on October 5, 2008 at 10:38pm
This is very informative, i remember seeing the MoJazz label when i found that site with all the Motown subsidiary labels...I never say much about it, but i always loved Wayman Tisdales music

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Introspection

Spotlight | Maze

  1. play Maze — 03 Feel That You're Feelin'
  2. play Maze — 04 Somebody Else's Arms
  3. play Maze — 04 Southern Girl
  4. play Maze — Can't Get Over You
  5. play Maze — Golden Time Of Day
  6. play Norman Brown — Night Drive
  7. play Norman Brown — Feeling
  8. play Norman Brown — Still
  9. play Miles Davis — miles 1
  10. play miles 2
  11. play miles 3
  12. play miles 4
  13. play miles 5
  14. play Marvin Gaye — I Met A Little Girl
  15. play Santana — 01 Singing Winds, Crying Beasts
  16. play Santana — 02 Black Magic Woman-Gypsy Queen
  17. play Mongo — 02. Afro Blue



The history of the Butlers/Raw Soul is dense, but for all of us music nerds, that's normal. It is not totally clear what year the Butlers actually formed but they released their first single in 1963 on Liberty Records. That single was "She Tried To Kiss Me" and another single followed on Guyden entitled "Lovable Girl." After the Guyden single the Butlers took a break not recording another record until the single "Laugh, Laugh, Laugh" was released on the Phila label in 1966. The group also backed Charles Earland and Jean Wells on one Phila single ("I Know She Loves Me"). 


As you might be noticing, the Butlers were doing a fair amount of recording but not achieving much success. The group's recordings sold regionally but never had the promotion to make an impact on the national scene. After the single with Phila, the Butlers moved to the Fairmount label (part of the Cameo-Parkway family) and released a handful of singles, some being reissued singles of the past. The Butlers were with Fairmount for 1966-67 and then moved to Sassy Records. Sassy released the group's greatest single (in my opinion) "Love (Your Pain Goes Deep)" b/w "If That's What You Wanted." A copy of that 45 sold for just under $500 last summer on eBay. Even though that isn't that much in the world of record collecting--it's still a hefty sum. The Butlers released another single on Sassy ("She's Gone" b/w "Love Is Good") that appears to be even 
harder to come by then the "Love (Your Pain Goes Deep)" single.

 

The true history become a bit blurred here as the AMG biography states that the Butlers last record was released on C.R.S. in 1974 (". However, between 1971 and that single, Frankie Beverly formed a group called Raw Soul and released a number of singles. Some of the songs recorded by Beverly during this period are "While I'm Alone," "Open Up Your Heart," (both on the Gregor label) and "Color Blind." "Color Blind" was released by the Eldorado label and rerecorded by Maze. Beverly's big break came when Marvin Gaye asked Raw Soul to back him on a tour. Gaye helped Beverly/Raw Soul get a contract at Capitol. Beverly decided to take the group in a different direction, a name change occurred, and Maze was created. 

The above isn't the most complete history of Beverly but hopefully someone will know a way to get in touch with the man or his management because a comprehensive pre-Maze history needs to be done on Frankie Beverly (his real name is Howard, by the way). Below you'll find every Frankie Beverly (pre-Maze) song available to me right now ("Color Blind" will be up soon). 

If you have a song that is not included below, shoot it over to funkinsoulman (at) yahoo.com and it will go up in the next Frankie Beverly post (later this week--highlighting Maze). Also, if you have any more information please share your knowledge. The Butlers material has been comp-ed sporadically (usually imports) but the entire Maze catalog has been reissued and is available. 

Enjoy.  "She Kissed Me" (Fairmount, 1966 or 1967) 
 
 "I Want To Feel I'm Wanted" (not sure which label or year) "Laugh, Laugh, Laugh" (Phila, 1966) "Because Of My Heart" (Fairmount, 1966 or 1967)
   
 "Love (Your Pain Goes Deep)" (Sassy, 1967)
   
 "If That's What You Wanted" (Sassy, 1967)
 



Frankie Beverly is one of those cats that has lasting power. He started in the music business doing a tour with doo wop group the Silhouettes and then formed his own group called the Blenders. The Blenders never recorded a single, Beverly wouldn't appear on wax until forming the Butlers a few years later. Along with Beverly, the Butlers included Jack "Sonny" Nicholson, Joe Collins, John Fitch, and Talmadge Conway.

Beverly would later enjoy great success fronting Maze and Conway would become a
well-known penning Double Exposure's
"Ten Percent" and the Intruders' "Memories Are Here To Stay." 
 While Maze is a phenomenal group, Beverly's work before that group will always stand out as his best (imo).

The Butlers produced tunes that most Northern Soul fans would kill for and Raw Soul gave the funksters something to pursue. If, by chance, you know of a way to get in touch with Frankie Beverly or his management, please drop me an e-mail. It would be absolutely great to do an interview with him about his pre-Maze work. He's still playing out, most recently doing a New Year's Eve show in Atlanta.
:: Funkinsoulman ::

Sounds of Maze

  1. play Maze — 03 Feel That You're Feelin'
  2. play Maze — 04 Somebody Else's Arms
  3. play Maze — 04 Southern Girl
  4. play Maze — Can't Get Over You
  5. play Maze — Golden Time Of Day
  6. play Norman Brown — Night Drive
  7. play Norman Brown — Feeling
  8. play Norman Brown — Still
  9. play Miles Davis — miles 1
  10. play miles 2
  11. play miles 3
  12. play miles 4
  13. play miles 5
  14. play Marvin Gaye — I Met A Little Girl
  15. play Santana — 01 Singing Winds, Crying Beasts
  16. play Santana — 02 Black Magic Woman-Gypsy Queen
  17. play Mongo — 02. Afro Blue

Power...Through Simplicity ♪♫♪

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