Coast 2 Coast
A few years after wrapping up a lengthy and successful career in law enforcement, Gary Palmer returned to his early passion of playing the saxophone and achieved a lifelong dream with the release of his debut album Love Me Again.
Producing the collection himself like many emerging indie artists, he received countless accolades from journalists and fans alike, and scored extensive internet and terrestrial airplay for the singles “Island Breeze” and “Step in the Name of Jazz.” The easiest and most cost efficient way for the NYC bred, South Florida based artist to follow up would have been another total DIY project. Instead, eager to learn more about production, embrace fresh sonic ideas and up his creative game, Palmer reached out to a handful of the contemporary urban jazz’s top artists and producers to develop his dynamic, multi-faceted new collection Coast 2 Coast.
The clever album title reflects the bicoastal nature that the 13-track project took on as Palmer gained wisdom and insight into the writing and recording process while working on tracks in Los Angeles with two time Grammy winner and renowned genre hit maker Paul Brown, chart-topping guitarist/producer Nils and guitarist/producer Kay-ta, who plays with Greg Adams’ East Bay Soul; in Philadelphia with guitarist and emerging smooth jazz artist David P. Stevens; and contemporary jazz keyboardist/writer and artist Tim Watson in North Carolina.
The album’s lead single, “Land of the Sun,” a lush, old school horn infused soul/jazz gem that showcases the romantic side of Palmer’s evolving artistry, has been a huge hit, landing at #65 on Groove Jazz Music’s Top 100 of 2017 and spending four consecutive weeks at #1 on RadioWave’s Smooth Jazz Top 40. Co-written by Paul Brown, Daniel Chia and keyboardist/artist Bob Baldwin (who is featured on the track), it is one of three tracks produced by Brown. The others are a sensual re-imagining of the Stanley Clarkes classic “Lisa” and the soulful, seductive title track ballad “Coast 2 Coast.”
Nils brings out more of Palmer’s deeply funky side on infectious, in the pocket tracks like the playful, mid-tempo Windsurfer” and soaring, high energy jam “Waterfalls,” while Kay-ta helmed the whimsical power ballad “Misunderstanding,” which has been chosen as Coast 2 Coast’s next single. Stevens’ encouragement from behind the boards takes Palmer on his deepest grooving excursions yet on the freewheeling, dance floor ready “To The Top” and the sizzling jazz/funk/fusion driven Prince tribute “Purple Party.” Then Stevens’ true Philly emerges and he helps Palmer dial down for the dreamy, old school Teddy Pendergrass-styled ballad “One More Time.” Completing Coast 2 Coast’s exciting and inspiring musical travelogue are “Chicago by Morning,” a buoyant and brassy driving tune with hypnotic synth percussion produced by Watson; and the intensely emotional old school R&B ballads “Ask Me To Stay” and “I Can’t Get Over You,” produced by and featuring the gorgeous vocals of Kevin Foster.
“This time around,” says Palmer, I made a conscious effort to do something very different and take my artistry to the next level by concentrating on my sax playing and performing and giving the songwriting and production reins to some of my favorite artists and producers. Working with these masters and looking to them as mentors, helped me gain a better understanding about the elements that need to go into a track to make it connect with listeners.
“Their guidance has made me better at what I do as far as communicating emotion and dynamics through my instrument. I knew the only way for me to get where I wanted to be as an artist was to get them to challenge me and offer objective feedback. The learning curve was powerful, with the result being that I’ve grown tremendously as an artist and person between the first CD and this one. Coast 2 Coast is all about giving people different flavors of who I am as an artist while still making them feel good.”
Palmer’s influence in the genre has expanded into the realm of internet radio with the launch in 2016 of his station WSJR-DB. Featuring a combination of smooth jazz, old school R&B, and gospel on Sundays, the station currently airs in over 50 countries worldwide. Palmer hosts the weekly Quiet Storm/slow jam program The Love Zone on Wednesdays. This past year, he started two other stations – the old school R&B driven WRBD Radio and the 24-hour gospel outlet WCKO. WRBD’s programming includes the syndicated Soul Music Café and starting in February 2018 will include a two hour program called “The Gary Palmer Saturday Morning Show.” WCKO’s programming includes a syndicated teen gospel program.
Though Palmer retired as Chief of Police from the Lauderhill, FL Police Department in 2010, he returned a few years later to serve as the city’s Colonel of the Department of Detention and Community Programs. He balances these duties with a growing number of musical performances, including regular events for the Miami Heat and shows at St. James Live in Atlanta, the Augusta Music Fest and the Lake Arbor Jazz Festival, where he jammed in the finale with Gerald Veasley, Ken Ford, Jeanette Harris, Big NY& The Smooth Jazz All Stars, Robert Zinn and Jazmin Ghent. Gary Palmer has also honored our great Nation and dazzled the crowd with a stirring performance of the National Anthem on 10/26/2017 at the BB&T Center at a Florida Panther’s NHL home game, Palmer was recently seen groovin’ and shakin’ it up at Maryland’s Live Casino performance with Bassist Big NY and The Smooth Jazz All Stars.
“It was such a joy to learn from and work with so many great writers, producers and musicians on Coast 2 Coast, and they helped me create a rich musical experience that’s a cross between smooth jazz and R&B with an old school feel,” says Palmer. “That’s the combination I am always after, showing people that my versatility and range of emotions. I’m firmly in the urban jazz world but I share a lot of elements of the music I loved growing up, including those old school vocal ballads where my sax is there but the focus is on the voice and story. For me, it’s the perfect combination of everything I enjoy.”
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