When my wife and I first met, it was a connection made through music which ultimately catalyzed our romance. We were sharing YouTube videos of our favourite “waybacks”, which included Tupac’s 1998 posthumously released “Do For Love”. Of course being a long-time Soul, Funk, Disco and Smooth Rock DJ, it wasn’t long before I answered back with the “originator”. Credit where credit’s due: the message was always strong in Tupac’s lyrics, but it is undeniable that the sample of Bobby Caldwell’s “What You Won’t Do For Love”, a billboard top-10 hit in its own right 20 years before (1978), gave the rapper an ideal bed to leave lasting impressions in our hearts and on radio airwaves. My wife and I still call out both versions as “our song” when we hear it in the grocery store.
Fast forward through the rise of Alicia Keys, Jennifer Hudson, Cee-Lo Green and Kendrick Lamar, and you will find a common thread: Grammy-winning Producer Jack Splash. In interviews, Splash was known to shout out Caldwell as one of his dream projects, that if a collaboration were made possible it would see him realize a professional milestone. As the story goes, Mary Caldwell (Bobby’s wife) upon reading these interviews contacted Splash to set up a meeting through a twitter account branded for their dog, Stella. The result of that meeting is a new self-titled album from Caldwell and Splash under the name Cool Uncle.
With the help of friends Mayer Hawthorne, Deniece Williams, Eric Biddines, Cee-Lo Green and Jessie Ware, Cool Uncle brings us 15 tracks of Splash’s thumping emotions with the blue-eyed soul you would expect from a crooner of Caldwell’s caliber.
The album is available worldwide on November 13th, but NPR.org has a first-listen up now. My early favourites, embedded below, are the brilliantly smooth interplay of Jessie Ware and Sir Bobby on “Break Away”, and an upbeat jam with a summery feel; “Never Knew Love Before”. There’s plenty here for music fans new and old, so find a groove to sail away on.
Cool Uncle – Break Away
Cool Uncle – Never Knew Love Before