88 Steps To Eternity: Oakland Producer/Musician Kev Choice Releases His Latest Gallery of Jazz-Infused Instrumentals
Fusicology on November 30, 2016with 0 comments
As an accomplished pianist, Kev Choice felt it was time to fully express himself as a musician. Kev Choice latest project, “88 Steps To Eternity” is a journey through his musical influence from the past to present. Having listened heavily to jazz from the 70’s as a young Hip-Hop producer looking for samples, Choice grew an affinity for that style and era of music.
“I loved the heavy synths, improvisation based compositions, and more complex harmonies and arrangements than most music of the time I had heard. It was a combination of all current styles, jazz, rock, funk, and soul, even some classical music. I wanted to take that musicality and composition style and combine it with the rhythms and styles of todays music from hip-hop or trap, soul or R&B. I want to connect jazz to a new generation with something they can relate to and feel. “
Kev’s composition’s were embellished by his band, Kev Choice Ensemble, which consists of keys, drums, bass, guitar, and horn section. A good portion of the album sounds like a high caliber late night jam session with some of the Bay Area’s best musicians. From funked out synths to grand piano flourishes, warm electronic keyboard pads to sultry keytar riffs, Kev Choice shows his versatility as a keyboardist on this project.
The titles of the songs on the album reflect Kev’s conscious message and self-reflective nature. Songs like “Dance Of The Displaced”, “Hero’s Theme”, “Perserverance”, “Oh Why”, and “Eternal Light”, attempt to make a statement without saying a word. Kev attempts to solidify a new styled called “Trap Jazz” with songs like “Love Trap”, “Rock With Me Still,” and “Spirals,” taking rhythms and melodies you might here on the latest trap songs and playing them in an instrumental context. Songs like “Perseverance”, “Eternal Light”, “Perspective” come from a more jazzy-soulful space.
“The album as a whole was composed to be a journey in time, to space, and beyond. I still wanted to keep it grounded by familiar elements to help people relate and connect to it”. Choice says. “The 88 represents the number of keys on the piano and to eternity means that the goal is to make music that is timeless.”
As a pianist, artist, producer, composer, and a sideman, Kev Choice wears many hats. Needless to say, all of them fit very well. Blessed with prodigious talent, as well as the skill and dedication towards his craft, the Oakland-based artist is redefining what it means to be a musician in this day and age. Not too many classically-trained pianists who hold Master’s degrees in music can rock microphones with blazing-hot 16s and tour the world with Grammy award winning artists. Through his unyielding drive and ambition, Kev Choice has earned the right to refer to himself as “that dude” .
Choice began playing piano at age 11. As a teenager, he played in classical and jazz ensembles throughout Oakland while also recording and performing his own music–particularly, rap music. He continued his musical jounrey after graduating high school, receiving a scholarship to study piano at Xavier University–where he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Music– and Southern Illinois University –where he graduated with a Master’s in Music.
After college, Choice became an on-demand sideman, recording and touring with the likes of Bay Area artist Michael Franti and Spearhead, Too $hort, and Goapele. He had the opportunity to meet Lauryn Hill early in his career and because of his many talents, she asked him to put together a band for her. This gig took him to Japan, Brazil, and all across Europe, leading to his working on the single “Lose Myself,” which Miss. Lauryn Hill recorded for a soundtrack. Lauryn Hill, he says, “was very influential in my musical development as an artist.” Working with Lauryn Hill, Choice reflects, “showed me that I was capable of anything and that I should always be pushing myself musically, never get comfortable in your abilities, and always speak and say what you feel in your music without compromise.” He’s since lengthened his resume by performing with the likes of The Coup, Zion I, Terrace Martin, Dwele, Martin Luther, Amel Larrieux, Omar, and Souls of Mischief.
Kev Choice is known for his impressive live shows that seamlessly cross boundaries between genres and connect to people with his high level of musicianship, social commentary, and inspirational messages. As a solo artist, he has released mixtapes, EP’s and 4 full lengths albums: “ThePower of Choice” (2011), “Oakland Riviera” (2014), “Love andRevolution” (2015), and the upcoming release “88 Steps To Eternity” (2016)–All which were primarily produced and composed by himself. The latest project, “88 Steps” is the first full instrumental album and showcases Kev’s heavy jazz-fusion influence, piano improvisation chops, and compositional abilities. Choice states, “The new project is me channeling influences from jazz greats and approaching it from today’s perspective. I try to keep it classic but current.”
Kev has stayed relevant by working with many up and coming artist in the Bay Area scene such as Elujay, Netta Brielle, 1-O.A.K., Erk Tha Jerk, HBK CJ, and Azure.
“I’m a vet, but I approach the game like it’s my first time on the court every time. Trying to stay fresh and pushing towards what’s next.”