Since the 1990s, Atlanta-based bassist/songwriter/producer Khari Cabral (aka Khari Simmons) has usually been thought of as one piece in a larger puzzle.
And that's because, for years, he's been a go-to sideman (touring with artists like India.Arie), a frontman and organizer of bands like Jiva, and a collaborator on projects (such as the Moon Bossa album he released with singer Julie Dexter).
But for his latest album, the Brazilian-flavored Clementine Sun, Cabral decided to flip his usual team-oriented M.O. and create something under his own name.
Music fans will actually get a chance to hear the new album live when Cabral opens for Incognito this weekend (see details below); but before any of that, Creative Loafing checked in with the man himself to get all the details about his new endeavor.
Creative Loafing: You've built a career out of being associated with bands and groups of artists. What made you want to do an album under your own name?
Khari Cabral: The thing is dude, you know with the Jiva stuff, I've actually kept it going, in terms of album releases. I probably kept it going a lot longer than it was going. So, when Jiva signed with Giant Step and Giant Step decided to not release our record ... a lot of the people [in Jiva] started to do their own stuff. So that's when you started to see the Alex Lattimore solo thing, the Rhonda Thomas solo thing ... I was at this point where it's like: "Well, Jiva's not the same anymore, even though I really keep it together." But the main thing that really spawned [the solo album] was the Moon Bossa album. The Moon Bossa album was under the "Julie [Dexter] and Khari" name. That record actually has had another level of success, man - different than any of the Jiva records ... like the album where I get the most residuals ... is the Moon Bossa album. So as we were thinking of doing another album together - me and Julie - it became clear that she was going to be doing another [solo] record, New Again ... so then I kind of thought: "Let me just keep this under my own name." Much in the spirit of like the Quincy Jones albums or the Sergio Mendes albums ... where it's their name even though it features a lot of other people ... I was like, "Let me do that." Once I committed to that vision, a lot of stuff just opened up.
You've got a heavy hitting crew of people working with you on this album - India.Arie, for example. How did you get her involved with the project?
Well, India ... so, I was [working on] the record and most of the record is being sung by Chantae Cann and Brenda Nicole. But [based on a conversation with pianist Takana Miyamoto, who plays on the album] ... I sent [vocalist] Monday Michiru an email that said "Hey listen, here's a song that I have, and I really hear you on it. I'm working on a project. Let me know if you're interested." She sent back an email right away and she was interested and then she recorded it. So man, the moment she recorded it, and I had that song, everything else fell into place. Because India and I, from back in the day, we're big Monday Michiru fans. And as soon as [India] heard Monday on it, she was like, "Whoa that sounds good!" And she kind of got a vibe for what the record might be and she was like: "Look, if you hear a space for me on the record, let me know."
Listening to your work with Jiva and Julie, you've recorded a lot of bossa nova and samba-tinged music for a good while now. Why do you gravitate so much to Brazilian sounds?
I don't really know directly. I can probably say that's the music that's close to my heart, and that's what I love. It could be that when I was young, watching those early Charlie Brown specials - because Vince Guaraldi, who scored all the music for the Charlie Brown stuff, did bossa nova ... there's just something with bossa nova that just resonated with me. It's truly what has always moved my heart.
I know Bluey from Incognito actually mixed the new album. What role do you feel he played in achieving the sound you wanted on this CD?
To be honest man that question is almost answered by just talking about the role he's played in my life in general. The truth is ... it would be accurate to call him a mentor. Probably since 2000, he has really been helping me with music and music development a lot - but never as hands-on as with this album ... that last bit of magic, that sparkle, that radio-ready sound that is on this record, in a way that's not on a lot of my other records, has everything to do with him.
Khari Cabral opens for Incognito at Center Stage (1374 W. Peachtree St.) on April 6 and 7. Tickets: $42.50-$49.50. Doors open at 7 p.m.; show starts at 8 p.m. For more info, call 404-885-1365 or visit the Center Stage website.
ooooohhhh, I'm so excited!! I can't wait to see them together!
come on man you know you got a bromance. you probably still rock that OutKast…
Yes, 14 is the correct answer. I'll pass your info along to the group's manager,…
That was January of 2007, and they are 21 now, so I'm guessing 14?