A little adventurous and a lot smooth, that’s the flavor from musician John Thasaint. The pianist is out with a new CD called “This Is Us” – 15 great tracks reminiscent of the heartwarming melodies and easy rhythms of R&B. “Tones of Love” has a background depth that doesn’t pull down its smooth tempo and “Giving My All” sports a funky snap. Thasaint’s personal sound is clear and uncluttered, expressive and upbeat. He gives the cover of “Purple Rain” all respect while adding his lyrical touch with a hot beat.
Where are you based, and why did you choose to play piano in the first place?
I became got attached to keyboards and piano because it’s structured like emotions and moods. The far-left keys are dark and deep and the right go towards a happier lively feel. My music is very moody and switches frequently
Your first big break as a performer?
It was scoring music for television, a Virginia-based show called “The Heart Series” by author Iris Bolling.
What informs your sense of composition and arrangement- what elements are most important to you?
My music starts with a moment in life, the emotion they give and the resolution. So it would be calm that leads to a storm and a resolve. Story and emotion are king to me.
Why do you think the old school feel of the R&B songs are so appealing to audiences today and why did you want to capture that in “This Is Us”?
Back in the day we fell in love with the music before we saw a visual of the artist. it was about the music first. No social media, internet, YouTube. Today’s music is the opposite which wears out very quickly. The younger generation has a void in their music; it’s missing soul and feeling. “This Is Us” is my attempt to bridge both generations and bring the mood to the groove.
Who are the other musicians on this project?
I had the privilege to have accomplished vocalist Renee “Raja`Nee” Freeman and producer and artist Wilfred “Nenja” Freelix on the song “Come Get This Love” we produced together.
How did the music you heard growing up influence your music today, in specific, on this album?
The events of 2020 are what gave birth to “This Is Us”. The pandemic, social uprisings and being stuck at home for so long brought me closer to my family, my feelings at the time and let me tell a better story without words.
What did you want to communicate with these songs?
The message was three-fold, first, dance like no one is watching and release the stress of the times; appreciate those in your life that are still there by your side at the end of the day; and letting out the emotions that have been built inside you and find a resolution
How does this album stand apart from your other work in terms of sound and vibe?
It’s the first album I did that took longer than a year to create and release. The album title is “This Is Us”, so I needed to musically find out who I am and who we are as a people so people of different nationalities and age ranges can relate to it.
What part of production do you enjoy the most? What’s the most challenging or frustrating?
I mostly enjoy the point when the base structure and arrangement is done. That is when I can be one with the piano and speak to it and let it all the emotions flow out. The frustrating part is mastering and getting approval from my wife/manager.
How have you developed as an artist from the start of your career to today?
Patience and trusting my instinct on a song’s structure, meaning and purpose is where I believe I grew, so much that I will be redoing my first album “Love Confessions”.
Do you think jazz is a unifier of people?
Jazz and music in general bring us together because they’re transmitting a story, an emotion that we all relate to. Jazz is so vast that it bridges many genres to fuse us all together.
Sometimes music is made to lift us, when other things try to bring us down. Music is a medicine that never fails when it is consumed correctly.
For more information visit https://www.johnthasaint.com/.
Photos courtesy of and with permission of the artist.
(c) 2020 Debbie Burke