La Velle – Brand New Start
LP Blue Silver – BS 3010 - France, 1981
A change from the old scratchy EP! Time for glitz, glam and funk! Fix yourself a Dry Martini or chose your favorite poison and get on the floor for some 80s disco funk boogie.
About La Velle
Lavelle McKinnie Duggan is an American Jazz, Soul and Gospel singer.
Born in Kankakee, near Chicago, in a musical family. Her father played the guitar in Nat King Cole's band, her mother was a dancer and singer in the Cotton Club. Lavelle already sung gospel in choirs at the tender age of 3. She started studying the piano at 5. She entered Chicago's national Conservatory at the age of 11, being the youngest student. She did brilliant musical studies, earning many awards. She sung Haendel's Messiah as she was only 14. She continued her studies at the prestigious Julliard School of Music de New York.
After a career as a lyric singer, she progressively went back to jazz and gospel. She made an appearance in the Broadway musical “Hello Dolly”. She then toured across America, singing with the greatest names in soul music such as Ray Charles or Sammy Davis Jr. She also worked with the big bands of Lionel Hampton, Buddy Rich, Maynard Ferguson and Quincy Jones.
In 1977, she moved to France, releasing her first album Winter's Mind. She then released a disco single entitled Playgirl in 1979, followed by a second LP, the soul / funk oriented “Brand New Start.”.
In 1989, she did background vocals for Ray Charles & Dee Dee Bridgewater. The following year, she recorded and produced the album Straight Singin' - Tribute to Nat King Cole. Apart form her own concert and tours, she ran singing masterclasses, sharing her passion and contributing to the creation of many gospel choirs in France. In 1992, she was awarded the decoration of Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres
During the 90s, she was the female vocalist of the B-one project. She probably did all vocals for Miranda from 1999-2001. She also sung for some TV ads.
She then left France to settle in Saint-Cergue (Switzerland). She leads a gospel choir in Geneva, but also keeps on running masterclasses and touring in France.
About the band
Top-notch French (and a few expats) studio musicians, all with extensive jazz pedigrees (several of them – Gimenez, Bonfils, Bessot … -were members of the jazz-fusion band Synthesis in the late 70s). Jean Pierre Sabar was a long-time arranger for Serge Gainsbourg. Interesting also to see the name of Noah Howard – another long time French resident – in the credits! Que du beau monde!
A1 Brand New Start
A2 When You Find The Time
A3 Creole Girl (Lyrics: La Velle / Music : Nat Dove, Noah Howard)
B1 Rastafaris (LaVelle, Joe Scott)
B2 It's Too Soon (Lowell Folsom, B.B. King
B3 Take A Look In The Mirror And See
B4 Someday In The Dust / Just Like My Friends Used Too
Arranged By – Raymong Gimenez* (tracks: A1, A2, A3, B1, B3)
Trumpet – Kako Bessot (tracks: A1, B1, B2, B3)
Trombone – Alex Perdignan* (tracks: A1, B1, B2, B3)
Saxophone – Alain Hatot (tracks: A1, B1, B2, B3)
Guitar – Jean-Claude Chavanat (tracks: A1, B1, B3), Laurent Roubach (tracks: A2, A3, B2)
Piano – Jean-Pierre Sabar (tracks: A1, B1, B3), La Velle (tracks: A2, A3, B2, B4)
Bass – Louis Martial Kool* (tracks: A2, A3, B2), Tony Bonfils (tracks: A1, B1, B3)
Drums – Pierre Alain Dahan* (tracks: A1,B1, B3), Sangoma Grover Everett (tracks: A2, A3, B2)
Percussion – Negrito Trasante (tracks: A1, A2, A3, B1)
So, if you feel adventurous and your tastes are catholic enough to embrace 80s soul funk, give this album a try. The lady has an amazing vocal range; the arrangements and playing are excellent, with that typical “european” touch.