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Contemporary Jazz Pioneers Pieces of a Dream Release 25th Recording With the Anticipated Fired Up!

The Buzz on Pieces of a Dream

“Pioneers of Smooth Jazz.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer

“The Steely Dan of Smooth Jazz.”

All About Jazz

“A tough act to follow!”

Count Baisie

New CD Out 10/15 Features Guests Justin Lee Schultz, Alexander Zonjic & B.K. Jackson
Plus a New Anthem for the City of Brotherly Love

After a year and a half of social distancing, virtual concerts and live streams, Contemporary Jazz pioneers Pieces Of A Dream is back with Fired Up! With their 25th new recording set for release on October 15, 2021, their fast-approaching 45th anniversary and a string of tour dates, the super-band’s mission is stronger than ever. “We are committed, determined and fully prepared to get back in the groove again,” declares drummer Curtis Harmon. “This means doing all I can to ensure my God-given gifts and talents are used for something meaningful, not just for myself but for others as well.” Pianist James Lloyd adds, “On our first in person gig recently, it was nothing short of magical. We didn’t want to leave the stage. It was awesome being able to see our fan’s faces again, even if through masks.” The story of Pieces Of A Dream, who have opened for such luminaries as Miles Davis, Count Basie and James Brown, is a tale of destiny and brotherhood. Picture three starry-eyed fanatical teen musicians who manage to get discovered by Mister Magic (Grover Washington, Jr.), become teen sensations and go on to join the pantheon of musical wonders from the “City Of Brotherly Love” that includes, Gamble and Huff, Patti Labelle, John Coltrane, McCoy Tyner, and The Roots. They have toured the world, sold over one million albums, and scored both Smooth Jazz and R&B radio hits along the way. Pieces Of A Dream has long been revered for their signature fusion of Jazz, R&B, Funk, Pop and Blues. James Lloyd promises the new CD Fired Up!, will feel like coming home. “This new album runs the gamut of what our fans have come to expect: up-tempo, down-tempo, Funk, ballads, Latin-infused and party jams – it’s all Pieces!” he exclaims.

James Lloyd and Curtis Harmon share a zeal for music and connecting with their fans that is palpable. This coupled with their magnetic chemistry have attributed to their enduring success. James shares, “My partner Curt is the pocket
and the drive onstage. When collaborating and writing music, he brings a different energy and direction, which is refreshing,” Curtis comments, “James has a unique sense of humor that makes working with him a lot of fun. He is also
a perfectionist when it comes to our music so he never settles for doing less than his best.”

Pieces Of A Dream’s anticipated new recording, Fired Up!, delivers their trademark sound. The album showcases ten
tracks featuring soulful grooves, energized solos and organic compositions. “After a collectively challenging year and a half, we hope Fired Up! brings new excitement and energy to our fans love of music,” says drummer Curtis Harmon.
“We want this album to be a reminder of the good things life has to offer both musically and personally.” Pianist James Lloyd reflects, “We wouldn’t be here without our fans. Our mission has always been to stay true to them and to dance a
delicate balance between being progressive and holding onto our roots, while pushing the envelope and stretching our boundaries.”

Recording an album during Covid presented some obstacles but James and Curtis met the challenge. “This album was a bit more challenging, but because we were already accustomed to not having to be in the same room to record, it wasn’t
too bad,” says James. Fired Up! opens with the exhilarating and jet-fueled “In Too Deep,” featuring saxophonist Tony Watson Jr. and trumpeter Parker Lewis. Curtis describes the song as “Pieces Of A Dream meets Tower Of Power!” He
adds, “It gives you a Pieces groove with a popping Tower Of Power type horn section.” The old-school flow of “Ear Candy” serves just the right amount of sweetness to satisfy your ears with Lloyd’s piano glissandos and bluesy phrasing
along with Harmon’s rock-steady back beat. The tranquil lilting melodicism of “Smoothing Out” follows, featuring flutist Alexander Zonjic and “Livin’ The Life,” offers the perfect party anthem to uplift any occasion and is a special
tribute to Pieces’ beloved Philadelphia. Harmon says, “I think that this track represents a Philly type of groove. This is one of those head-bobbing songs that grabs you when the bass line starts and keeps you grooving all the way through.
Young saxophonist B.K. Jackson gives a great performance on this one.”

One of the most time-honored and treasured traditions in jazz is the mentorship that the elder statesmen and women provide to the younger generation of players. Luminaries like Art Blakey and Betty Carter utilized their bands as ‘Universities.” Pieces Of A Dream feels an obligation to carry on this tradition. When Lloyd and Harmon were teens, the iconic saxophonist Grover Washington Jr., took the duo under his wing and signed them to their first deal in 1981. Now the duo have come full circle and are mentoring the young multi-instrumental whiz kid Justin Lee Schultz. Lloyd shares, “We learned so much from Grover and we try to share those lessons wherever we can and as much as we can. Now, through Justin, we’re paying it forward.” Lloyd wrote and along with Harmon appears on Justin’s first single from his recording debut, Gruv Kid. The circle of life continues and Lloyd adds, “I feel things like this are what keeps Grover’s and Pieces’ legacy going.” Justin Lee Schultz is featured on the track “Just Do It!” and Harmon affirms,
“There is a certain satisfaction that comes from connecting with young people. It revitalizes you and gives you even greater purpose. Although Justin is only 14 years old, his maturity is definitely on display as his solo kicks this song up a notch. We hope to keep people in the groove with this one!”

The album’s title track and first single “Fired Up,” is a rallying cry for people to focus on the present and to make the most of it. James Lloyd shares, “It’s a wake-up call. This song is meant to be a sign that things are on their way to where we want it to be. There’s still a ways to go, but it can be done and we can get there! Let’s get fired up!” Pieces offer an antidote for your blues with “Feelin’ Good.” “This song will help you forget your worries and take you to a place of serenity,” explains Harmon adding, “Chris Harris’s acoustic and Latin flavored performance on the guitar along with Tony Watson Jr.’s sultry saxophone, almost transport you to a paradise island. It’s the calm after the storm!” Most people would think that Smooth Jazz and Trap music have nothing in common but think again! Lloyd says, “’It’s A Vibe’ is his attempt to find the synergy between Smooth Jazz and Trap Music. “I wanted to find that space where they coexist and bring their worlds to each other.” Now, how is that for exploration? Harmon says of the R&B inflected swinger “Gettin’’ Through It,” “This groove displays a smooth jazz feel with an R&B swagger. It’s one of those songs that we hope musicians as well as the general public will appreciate because of its unusual chord progressions. Plus,
Chris Harris really brings the heat with his guitar solo.” Fired Up! concludes with the ethereal and arresting “Going Home,” a farewell tribute to Lloyd’s recently deceased Father-In-Law. He shares, that the song is ultimately a
composition of “hope and healing.”

James Lloyd and Curtis Harmon have been the nucleus of Pieces Of A Dream since its inception and played together as kids and members of the Ada Lewis Middle School jazz ensemble along with former member, bassist Cedric Napoleon. Danny Harmon, Curtis’ father and a jazz musician himself, became their manager and had the guys listening to the Modern Jazz Quartet, Ahmad Jamal and Oscar Peterson, as they developed their unique sound, blending their jazz roots with R&B, soul and funk.

Taking their name from the Stanley Turrentine song “Pieces Of Dreams,” Pieces released three albums in quick succession, establishing their place in the world of Smooth Jazz: Pieces Of A Dream (1981), We Are One (1982) and Imagine This (1983). Those albums include some of their biggest early hits, including “Warm Weather,” “Mount Airy Groove” and “Fo Fi Fo.” Pieces Of A Dream recorded their Shanachie debut, In The Moment, in 2013, followed by 2015’s All In, 2017’s Just Funkin’ Around and On Another Note in 2019. With the release of Fired Up!, Pieces Of A Dream is proving that they are still relevant, still swinging, still pushing and still searching to hold a sacred place in the hearts of their fans. Curtis Harmon states, “Although the pandemic altered the way we were able to deliver our music to people, we will always create music and find a way to make it available to those who want to hear it.” James Lloyd adds, “With what the world has experienced lately, I do feel that the importance of music and its powers have gained more recognition. However, I don’t feel that our role as artists has changed. Our goal is still to touch, heal, energize, and help people release.”

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A Statement About The Berks Jazz Festival

Pieces of a Dream would like to thank our loyal fans for your support going back over 40 years.

Due to the COVID-19 virus situation, the organizers and artists involved in the Berks Jazz Fest have found it necessary to postpone this year’s 30th Annual Festival to 2021 for the interest of everyone’s health and well-being.

The rescheduled 2021 festival will be held April 9-18, 2021. The festival will feature the same artists and tickets for the 2020 festival will be honored for the same shows at the 2021 festival.

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Pieces of a Dream Announces Collaboration with 12-year-old Prodigy Justin Schultz

Contemporary Jazz/R&B legends Pieces Of A Dream, Announce their mentorship and collaboration with 12-year old piano prodigy, Justin-Lee Schultz

South African-born pianist Justin-Lee Schultz will perform and record with co-founders of Pieces Of A Dream, James Lloyd and Curtis Harmon, as they pass on lessons learned from the great Grover Washington Jr.

The groundbreaking contemporary jazz/R&B band Pieces of a Dream has enjoyed a storied career lasting more than four decades. Despite their worldwide success and countless accolades, they’ve never for a second forgotten the jazz icon who helped propel them to stardom. The late, great saxophonist Grover Washington Jr. took the Philadelphia-born band under his wing when the founding members were still just teenagers, offering vital mentorship in both music and life.

Now the group’s co-founders, James Lloyd and Curtis Harmon, are proud to pay that generosity forward. Pieces of a Dream is proud to announce their association with the young pianist Justin-Lee Schultz, who at just 12 years of age showcases not only a remarkable virtuosity but a profound artistic maturity. In the coming years Lloyd and Harmon plan to perform and record with Schultz, both under the auspices of Pieces of a Dream and in Schultz’s own burgeoning career, providing the same crucial guidance and mentorship that Washington offered in the early stages of their own musical journey.

“Grover taught us a lot, not just about music but about the personal side of the industry,” says Lloyd, who was just 14 when he first caught the ear of the revered saxophonist. “His mentorship was a huge part of how we came to be here and why we’re still here. I want to perpetuate that for Justin, help and guide him the way that Grover did for us. It just feels like a natural evolution.”

“He reminds me of us when we were his age,” adds Harmon. “Grover took us under his wing and catapulted our careers into a totally different level. I feel that because this young man is such a great talent, it gives us the opportunity to do the same for somebody else. If we can possibly help change the life of someone who is already going in a positive direction, then I’m all for it.”

Justin-Lee Schultz was born in 2007 in Johannesburg, South Africa, and began playing keyboards in 2012, when he was 5. Intimately familiar with the obstacles faced by a professional musician, Schultz’s guitarist father Julius hoped his children would choose a different path. It was soon apparent, however, that both were gifted; his daughter Jamie Leigh took to the drums, while Justin quickly evidenced a talent well beyond his years and experience.

“I know the music industry, so I was crossing my fingers hoping that they wouldn’t play,” Julius says. “But within the first six months that he played the piano, Justin was playing jazz standards on a third-year university level. I would give him stuff that I thought was discouraging to play, like John Coltrane’s ‘Giant Steps,’ which is known as one of the most difficult jazz standards. But he sat down and started playing the melody – and then he started playing John Coltrane’s solo. That’s when I knew that he was a monster.”

Hoping to find better opportunities for his children, Schultz moved the family to Kalamazoo, Michigan in 2015. Through social media, Justin and Jamie Leigh began to catch the world’s attention, resulting in appearances on Harry Connick Jr.’s television show as the talent showcase Little Big Shots. It was through the Flautist Alex Zonjic that James Lloyd was introduced to Justin’s prodigious talents, and beyond, recognizing his virtuosity felt an instant connection. 

“Justin’s impressive for his age, but he’s not going to be playing with Pieces of a Dream because of that,” Lloyd says. “The biggest requirement for anybody getting on stage with Pieces, even more than their talent is their heart, their personality and their vibe. Justin has so much sheer joy for playing. He’s definitely a bit of an old soul, and I immediately just adopted him as my nephew.”

As important as sharing Justin’s talents with the world is to Lloyd and Harmon, it’s just as vital that he enjoy his childhood – that playing music remains a source of fun and joy. “We definitely enjoyed our career when Grover took us on,” Harmon says. “Justin has the seriousness about his craft, he has the drive to do what he wants to do, and he has more than enough talent to play with us. He definitely has to do the work, but we also want him to have fun with us, on and off the stage.”

Schultz will join Pieces of a Dream during select dates on the band’s 2020 world tour, and all involved hope to take the relationship far beyond those performances. Both Lloyd and Harmon look forward to helping Justin in the recording studio as he embarks on what promises to be a stunning career in music. 

“I think he has a gift from God,” Lloyd says. “Justin’s talent is a blessing. He was meant to be here to inspire people and spread joy, and we were meant to meet up with him at this time so that our paths could join. It doesn’t seem like that long ago that we were suddenly learning how to write songs. At this point we now have a chance to bring that full circle and perpetuate it into the future.”

For more information and 2019-2020 tour schedule, visit:

https://piecesofadream.net

Pieces of a Dream on Facebook 

Or contact Pieces Of A Dream Management: (410) 963-3700

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Just Funkin’ Around Debuts at #2!

We are ecstatic to announce that Just Funkin’ Around has debuted at #2 on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Albums chart! Pieces of a Dream, who are celebrating their 40th Anniversary this year, released the album on May 26, 2017. Thank you to all the fans who made this honor possible!

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Reviews of Just Funkin’ Around Released

In the last few days, a couple of websites have had the opportunity to review Pieces’ new album Just Funkin’ Around.

The Smooth Jazz Ride says that the new album “continues to push forward the imagination and character of the band.” Reviewer Ronald Jackson says that jazz fans should “Get some of this, and you can thank me later.”

Hans-Bernd Hülsmann writes for First View that Pieces of a Dream “sovereignly continue to move to new levels of leadership within the smooth jazz genre.”

Just Funkin’ Around releases to the public on May 26, 2017!