Few artists travel the continuum between sublime passionate vocals and skilled musicianship. Divine soul man, FRANK MCCOMB, is one of the very few. His virtuoso piano and organ work has made him an underground favourite on the soul and jazz scenes and a highly sought after session player. He’s recorded and performed with many of music’s giants including: Frankie Beverly & Maze, Teena Marie, Chaka Khan, Lalah Hathaway, Terri Lynn Carrington, Phyllis Hyman and Teddy Pendergrass, and even Prince.
Well-known in the jazz and soul circuits, his 2005 performance with NAACP’s Lifetime Achievement Award Winner, Prince, thrust Frank back onto a world-stage. The climatic performance was a re-emergence for Frank who started his
career as a music director for the late Gerald Levert and pop diva, Anastacia. The televised performance served as an introduction to some and as re-connection with fans.
Frank McComb’s journey to the world stage began in 1970 in Cleveland, OH. The musical prodigy started playing piano at the age of 13, under the tutelage of his aunt. He recalls, “It all started in February of 1983. Church had just ended and my aunt was still playing on the church piano. She made it look so easy, so I asked her to teach me to play. I wasn’t expecting to start that day, but she scheduled my lessons for 1 hour every Sunday after church. Mysteriously the classes ended after the 3rd week, I was left on my own to tickle around on the piano after church services.” If you do the math that amounts to about 3 hours of piano training, however the seed was planted so deep inside young Frank that he continued to grow as a musician.
Two years later, he met Willie Ross, a local R&B guitarist who was so impressed by the youngster’s playing he enlisted him for his local gigging group. “Willie was my musical father,” McComb says. By the summer of 1985, he was the youngest musician playing in clubs around Cleveland, Ohio.
Embraced by local veteran musicians who recognized the innate talent in their young prodigy, the older band members supplied his transportation to gigs until he’d saved up enough money to buy his first car.
By 17, Frank was heading his own band. He formed a trio that played around Cleveland and became musical director for The Rude Boys, a male R&B vocal group signed to Atlantic Records via the late Gerald Levert, which lead to his
first touring gig. While touring, he met up with D.J. Jazzy Jeff & Fresh Prince and not long after moved to Philadelphia to do session work in the studio which would later become Jazzy Jeff’s A Touch Of Jazz Studios.
In 1995, while living in southern California, McComb heard from keyboardist Patrice Rushen that Branford Marsalis was looking for singers to perform in his funky jazz project Buckshot LeFonque. “Branford called me, and I said just
say where and when,” McComb recalls. Not long after the world would get a taste of his artistry on wax when Branford Marsalis released two seminal Hip-
Hop/Jazz fusion projects. The self-titled Buckshot LeFonque & Music Evolution both released on Columbia Records. Buckshot LeFonque featured McComb alongside his legendary ensemble of artists and collaborators which included DJ Premier and Maya Angelou. Frank’s lead vocals on “Another Day,” the second single off of Buckshot LeFonque’s second recording Music Evolution, propelled the sale of the album and brought recognition to Frank as an emerging talent. After returning home from a lengthy tour with Buckshot
LeFonque, Frank would reconnect again with Branford Marsalis when the jazz virtuoso took helm as head of A&R at Columbia Jazz signing McComb on as a solo artist. In the summer of 1999, he recorded, Love Stories, but the label had difficulty marketing Frank’s debut because it didn’t fit neatly into the jazz category, floating into blues, soul, R&B, and gospel genres. Eventually when Marsalis left the label, Frank ventured on his own as well. In between labels, he amassed quite a following from touring and remaining an active fixture on the live music scene.
He’s performed around the world and has become favourite overseas in cities like London, Amsterdam, Milan, France, and Japan to local venues throughout the U.S. Frank partnered with Steve Harvey (producer of Donnie’s “Welcome to
the Colored Section”) and released an exclusive European and Japanese import, The Truth which featured music legends Billy Preston and Paulinho DaCosta alongside Bay area favourite Ledisi.
While Love Stories and The Truth were in stores, Frank began to hear from fans that the MoJazz Recordings (Motown’s Jazz imprint) had been leaked and his unreleased music was selling on the black market for as much as $50 per cd.” He adds, “I was often asked to sign bootleg copies of my own music. I decided that if the people wanted the music so much that it was selling for $50 on the black market, unmixed, unmastered, without artwork, that I should form my own music company and take the chance on recording, packaging, and selling my own music directly to the buying public. What did I have to lose?” he reflects.
He formed Boobeescoot Music, built a home recording studio and launched a website, www.frankmccomb.info to promote his music. “Over a period of 4 years I had recorded a large number of songs at home with no special purpose for them. I placed them in what I call my “vault” and left them there,” he shares. One night in his studio while thinking about how much music he’d created, McComb opened his vault and pulled out tracks that would eventually be compiled into Straight From The Vault, a blend of soul, jazz and pop music, his 3rd album and first album released independently on Boobeescoot Music.
This collection won him Soultracks.com’s 2005’s Best Album of the Year for their
“Reader’s Choice Awards”.
With the vault already opened, he reached deeper into it and released The 1995 Bootleg (the shelved Mojazz album recorded in 1995) in April 2006. December 1st, 2006 marked the simultaneous releases of The 1995 Bootleg Limited Edition, which featured live performances and his first instrumental project "A Tribute to the Masters", paying homage to McComb’s aforementioned heroes: Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea. The album takes the listener higher by paying respect to contemporary giants George Duke, Patrice Rushen, Ramsey Lewis, Joe Sample and Russell Ferrante (of the Yellowjackets). In addition to artists who he pays tribute to on A Tribute To
The Masters, he also counts Oscar Peterson as his musical hero. After one listen you can also throw Stevie Wonder and Donny Hathaway into the potpourri of influences heard through Frank’s various bodies of work.
McComb is currently mixing and editing his first live CD/DVD recording Frank McComb Live In Atlanta with an expected Fall 2007 release. Now with complete control over his career, and a fan base that keeps growing Frank is positioning himself for a career with longevity. “I pray that I can continue to record and release the kind of music I grew up listening to years ago when real chord changes existed, songs had a subject and the most important...there was integrity.”
Velvet Music entertainment is Frank McCombs booking agent for concerts, Private engagements for mainland Spain and the Balearic Islands.