Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

Welcome To B&S





I remember the first time I heard Impromp2. Then-Motown executive Steve McKeever (now head of Hidden Beach) played me some tracks in his office with a view to having me write a bio for his newly-signed duo who would be among the first acts signed to the MoJazz imprint.

Even before I met Johnny Britt and Sean Thomas, I was hooked on the innovative fusion of jazz, hip-hop and R&B that would become Impromp2’s trademark. Discerning music lovers – particularly in Europe – were immediately responsive to tracks like 'Enjoy Yourself,' 'Get Me Off' and 'Summer Nights' on that first CD, 'You’re Gonna Love It' and vocalist/trumpeter Johnny (a former musical director for The Temptations) and his rap partner Sean looked set to make a real impact. Such are the travails of being with major labels: a second album, 'Can’t Get Enough' disappeared when MoJazz was dissolved while a third LP, 'Definition Of Love' didn’t get the kind of attention it deserved.

Being committed to their craft and to their distinctive brand of music, the Impromp2 guys didn’t give up and longtime fans are being rewarded with a new album, 'It Is What It Is,' released on their own JCS label. Notes Johnny, “We took a break for about three years to spend time with our families and we started working on the record officially last October. It’s funny how the record evolved. Sean would come over and things started flowing musically and the next thing we knew, we had ten songs. It happened organically. Once we started, we didn’t stop creatively and the great thing was we had time. There was no pressure…”

Sean picks up the story of the album’s creation: “We asked each other, ‘who are we going to get to play on the record?’ and ‘who do we want?’ We didn’t worry about how it was going to happen and before we knew it, we had Wah-Wah Watson (on guitar), Freddie Washington (on bass) and special guests like Boney James, George Duke, Harvey Mason, Norman Brown and Wayman Tisdale…”

Brown and Tisdale were among the duo’s labelmates at MoJazz, hence one of the key cuts on “it Is What It Is” named after their former label. “It’s actually a tribute to another great musician who was at the company, J. Spencer,” says Sean. “It was like a ‘MoJazz’ reunion.” In keeping with the flavour of their earlier albums, the new record has cuts like “I Wanna Know,” reminiscent of “Summer Nights” from their ’95 debut while “Good Thang” hearkens back to “Enjoy Yourself.” Keeping the Impromp2 trademark sound alive are tracks like “Keep Doin’” and a great reading of Marvin Gaye’s classic “You Sure Love To Ball” which Johnny notes was suggested by partner Sean.

The L.A.-based duo is heartened by the response they’ve received for the new album: “It’s been phenomenal, much more than we expected,” says Johnny. “We’ve had a lot of comments from people who say this is our best record and that’s very gratifying, especially since we’re re-entering the marketplace after a few years. We’ve had orders from the UK, Denmark, Japan, Italy, Australia... Now we just have to find a promoter who can bring us over to Europe to perform!”

Reflecting on why they chose to call the album, “It Is What it Is,” Sean says, “We have a unique sound and there’s a misconception that we are a jazz group. People try to describe it. Is it hip-hop? Is it jazz? We just say it’s good music so why put a label on it? Whatever you want to call it, so be it! The bottom line is, ‘do you like it?’” For Impromp2 peeps whose passion for the group’s music goes back to that first album, the answer is apparently a resounding ‘yes.’ For those who haven’t yet caught on, we can only echo the name of that first set: you’re gonna love it!

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

Join the B&S Mailing List

Blues and Soul on Twitter