Over the past two decades, urban jazz icons Kirk Whalum and Jonathan Butler have paved the way for emerging artists to take a bolder approach to blending their passions for instrumental pop, jazz and soul and gospel music. While those two artists were well established before they began recording gospel and worship albums – and rarely blend the two styles on a single project – saxophonist Andre Cavor is unabashedly sharing his lifelong love for both styles of music from the get go.
True to its title, the Cleveland based performer’s independent debut album Road Trip chronicles his multi-faceted journey – starting with playing the sax in church and, over the past decade, founding and leading The Cavor Project, an 11-piece ensemble renowned as one of the most diverse bands in the city. Andre found the perfect producer to take his artistry to the next level in Darren Rahn, a saxophonist and artist who has worked his studio magic for Whalum and Butler in addition to genre greats Dave Koz, Wayman Tisdale, Najee, Eric Darius, Jeffrey Osborne and Jeff Lorber.
Rahn agreed to produce Road Trip after hearing Andre’s version of the contemporary worship classic “We Fall Down.” Their musical chemistry is an outgrowth of their shared faith and Rahn’s dedication to helping Andre with his emotional dynamics, allowing him to play his heart out at the appropriate times and reigning things in when the moment calls for it. Andre felt that Rahn knew exactly what he wanted and needed to make Road Trip a standout debut, and is grateful for the guidance and mentorship the producer offered him along the way.
The collection includes three original tracks penned by Darren Rahn (“Road Trip,” “Say Something” and “Without A Doubt”), powerhouse covers of Adele’s “Hello” and After 7’s late 80’s smash “Ready or Not,” and five of Andre’s favorite all time gospel tunes – “More Than Anything,” “For Your Glory” (featuring background vocals), “Total Praise,” The Clark Sisters classic “You Brought the Sunshine” and “Heaven,” originally recorded by BeBe and CeCe Winans.
“Mixing contemporary jazz and gospel songs on Road Trip felt like a natural extension of my many live performances over the years,” says Andre, who first began playing the sax at 16 but let it go during his eight year stint in the army before rediscovering it in the early 2000s.
“So many people I have played for and entertained liked and responded emotionally to both sides of my artistry,” he adds. “When I started thinking about doing my first solo album, I thought I should share everything I truly love to do. Of course, I heard from some fellow sax players and other naysayers, telling me that new artists should never mix gospel and smooth jazz/R&B, that audiences won’t get it for some reason. My response was, ‘I honestly don’t think you were conceived to a gospel tune!’ and then told them I believed that people that love church and God also love R&B. I felt it was important to share my entire self with people. Including both on Road Trip was the perfect way to share my entire self with everyone.”
Andre laid the foundation for Road Trip with hundreds of performances as leader of The Cavor Project, which has been a mainstay on the Cleveland music scene since 2007. The band is known for infusing fresh, explosive energy into vocal and instrumental classics from the 80’s through 2017 and spicing up their set list with dynamic originals. Featuring 11 of the most acclaimed musical talents in the city – five band members, five vocalists and a hip-hop artist – The Cavor Project performs a grooving mix of R&B, smooth jazz, hip-hop, reggae, pop, blues, rock and gospel. They have played hundreds of local restaurants and private parties, and have headlined shows once a month for the past two years at Jack Thistledown Racino, a thoroughbred racetrack and casino in North Randall, Ohio.
The excited reaction of a small handful of fans of The Cavor Project was the divine sign Andre was waiting for to go ahead and start working on the tracks that evolved into his debut. “I was hauling equipment into the casino for our next gig, and two older women stopped me in my tracks. One of them asked, ‘Aren’t you that saxophonist who played here last week? You are phenomenal. I enjoy you! Every time you play, I make it my business to come see you.’ I realized that if I can touch a stranger who doesn’t know me like this, I think it’s time to share my music with more people as a recording artist.”
During his high school years, Andre was both a musician and athlete, playing clarinet and singing in choir while wrestling and running track. Inspired by a visit to his high school by one of its alumni, veteran saxophonist Eddie Baccus, Jr., Andre switched to alto sax and fell in love with it. He began playing sax in church as a teenager but set his musical life aside during his years in the army. Not long after he left the service, his uncle urged him to start playing again. The musician recalls, “It was at a family barbecue and he made me promise him that I would do it. He passed away that night and I haven’t put the sax down since.”
Seeking to further his knowledge and expertise, Andre enrolled in the jazz studies program at Cuyahoga Community College – the place where he feels the journey he charts on Road Trip truly began. After meeting his future wife Althea in 2002, he began playing every Sunday at the New Testament House of God in Cleveland, where she was a minister and her father was pastor. After a few years of performing in local clubs with musician friends, he launched The Cavor Project. For the past 12 years, he and Althea have also been partners in several successful child day care centers, Looney Tunes Child Care Center, and more recently, Learn, Play and Grow, a combination child care center and school aide center. Andre had a rough childhood himself and is dedicated to helping the children he and Althea take care of (from infants to pre-kindergarten) with their personal issues. He also uses his gifts as a saxophone player to help and entertain them.
“I never want kids to go through what I did, and so helping them supersedes everything else as far as what is important in my life,” Andre says. “God has blessed us with the opportunity to serve our community with our day care business, and in return for helping the kids; He blesses me with the ability to play music for them. My other favorite thing is performing live and interacting with the audiences. When I see the smiles on people’s faces when they hear my music, it is an overwhelming feeling and confirmation that I am doing exactly what I am put here to do. My goal is always to make people happy, and now with the release of Road Trip, I’m excited about reaching beyond my comfort zone and sharing the joy with more people.”
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|Committed to the preservation of America's treasured art form of jazz, BLU Jazz+ Masterclass Foundation (BJMF) is a new program developed by the founders of BLU Jazz+ Akron that brings “front-row” jazz education performance & mentorship opportunities to student musicians and art lovers alike through an ongoing series of special events throughout the year.|