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Will Downing


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Saturday, February 10, 2024 8:00PM

In the realm of jazz, few figures command the stage with the sheer vocal prowess and emotive depth of Will Downing. A luminary in the genre, Downing’s career has unfolded as a testament to the enduring power of soulful expression. Renowned for his rich baritone and an unwavering command of jazz stylings, Downing has seamlessly woven through the musical landscape for decades, leaving an indelible mark on the industry. As Smooth Jazz New York & Smooth Jazz New Jersey proudly present him at The Union County Performing Arts Center in New Jersey on Saturday, February 10th, at 8 pm, audiences can anticipate an evening steeped in the timeless allure of Downing’s artistry. The venue provides an ideal setting for this musical maestro to showcase his unparalleled talents, promising an intimate connection between artist and audience that transcends the ordinary boundaries of live performance. A night with Will Downing is not just a concert; it’s a journey through the soulful soundscape crafted by one of jazz’s most iconic figures.

A Journey Through Jazz and R&B: The Resilience of Will Downing

In the realm of contemporary jazz and R&B, Will Downing has carved out a niche for himself, captivating a devoted audience with a career spanning back to the early 1980s. Renowned for his velvety baritone vocals and distinctive renditions of R&B and pop classics, Downing’s musical journey has been marked by nine solo albums and a series of memorable live performances.

Frequently likened to the legendary Luther Vandross, Downing faced the challenges of navigating through various record label changes, hindering his quest for widespread commercial success. Undeterred, he sought to alter his trajectory with the 2000 release “All the Man You Need,” a more R&B-focused album that earned him a Grammy Award nomination for Best Traditional R&B Album. However, the experience left Downing disillusioned with the interference imposed by his record label on his artistic vision.

In a pivotal move, Downing found solace and creative freedom by joining the esteemed jazz label Verve. Returning to his roots in contemporary jazz, he reflected on this musical evolution in a May 2002 interview with Billboard’s David Nathan. “Times have changed,” Downing remarked, pondering the landscape of adult vocalists. “I think of Luther Vandross as the standard-bearer for adult vocalists, and there aren’t many of us around. Musically, I may straddle the fence between R&B and contemporary jazz. I’m just happy with what I’ve got as an artist and that I’m working with a company that lets me make the kind of music I want to make.”

As Downing continues to navigate the ever-shifting currents of the music industry, his resilience and commitment to authentic expression stand as a testament to the enduring power of an artist’s vision.

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