Kinda hard to believe that childhood friends James Lloyd and Curtis Harmon, founding members of Pieces of a Dream, have been kickin’ it for 30 years, especially since they’re still only in their 40s. They were popular from the start, and their early 1980s CDs established a fan base that has only grown larger over the years, thanks to Pieces’ touring, steady creative output and consistently winning contemporary jazz.
Of course, those early albums were true studio works: no e-mail and no yousendit.com. Recording in those days forced musicians to gather in the studio, which is what keyboardist Lloyd and drummer Harmon wanted to return to with their latest. (To be truthful, it doesn’t really matter how Lloyd and Harmon record their CDs, as most listeners couldn’t tell and likely wouldn’t care less how it was assembled.) With the help of bassist David Dyson, saxophonists Tony Watson Jr. and Eddie Baccus Jr. and guitarists Randy Bowland and Rohn Lawrence, Pieces has another solid if not spectacular effort.
Their secret, in swinging tunes like “Sway On” and “Vision Accomplished” and funky numbers like “Step on It” and “Soul Intent,” is to stay true to their vision of muscular contemporary jazz unburdened by thoughts of radio airplay. Ironic, really, since Lloyd is a call-to guy for many smooth-jazz artists looking for airplay.