Kevin Toney

America has witnessed a paradigm shift in recent years toward real and forward-looking change, especially among people of faith. Kevin Toney, a multi-award winning keyboardist, composer and author, will release an inspiring project on July 24th that combines traditional acoustic trio music with the compositional depth of classical movements. The album is called New American Suite and features Kevin Toney, Michael Bradford, Chris Coleman, and Chris Coleman, on piano. New American Suite, a nine-song piece Toney created with Don Mizell, a music veteran, as a salute the spirit of America. Toney’s K-Tone Enterprises through distribution will deliver it. After six albums with the 70s soul-jazz band The Blackbyrds, and eight critically acclaimed albums of urban jazz solo music, Kevin Toney’s New American Suite is the culmination a distinguished career in music and an enviable start to higher musical heights. New American Suite, Kevin Toney’s best recording to date, is simple. It is a sweet sound. Pushing and pushing musical boundaries around. The New American Suite concept was created only after the group’s songs had been composed (primarily by Toney and Bradford), and recorded. Toney was most excited about the music. Kevin explains that the title track and first song are a four-part suite, each section representing a specific aspect of America’s music traditions. It begins with piano melodies and then moves into a jazz section. This section mirrors how we started moving away from European counterparts. Then there is an Afro-Cuban section which builds to a powerful conclusion. It had a patriotic feeling – it was uplifting, encouraging and propelling. “This represented America from my vantage point.” Kevin’s close friend, Don Mizell, was instrumental in the creation of the song titles and the overall theme. He was awarded the distinguished title of Executive Creative Produce. Mizell is also the Grammy(r),-winning coproducer of Ray Charles’ last recording, Genius Loves Company. He clearly knows a lot about America. Kevin says, “In our attempt to paint a consistent image we came up with every song title in one night.” This is because Mizell, who was the Grammy(r)-winning co-producer of Ray Charles’ final recording, Genius Loves Company, clearly knows a lot about America. The piece sees the trio swingin’ but in unity, just like America’s founding fathers wanted. This theme is continued in the feel-good song “A Soulful Union”, which combines gospel, rock, and soulful jazz. It reflects the awakening of collective spirits to the truth of all men and woman are equal. The lyrical, bass-playing Bradford makes “Spacious Skies,” a peaceful meditation on the freedoms Americans take for granted. Coleman creates a delicious reggae-swing hybrid for “Love is All We Need”, over which Toney unconsciously recalls Vince Guaraldi’s breezy melodicism. The only non-original piece in New American Suite is an original arrangement by Ragtime king Scott Joplin of the 1902 Ragtime classic “The Entertainer”, which was popularized again in 1973 as “The Sting’s” theme. Toney says, “Our goal was bring the composition into 2012 using reharmonizations and a relaxed forward-moving groove.” Kevin Toney, a veteran pianist, started playing piano in Detroit, Michigan, at the age of five. Helen Toney was his first teacher. He added alto and cello saxophones to his skills set at eight years old. Later, he attended Cass Technical High School where he performed with some of the best musicians in his area. Kevin received his B.A. from Howard University in Washington, D.C. He studied composition and jazz studies. He was also the leader of The Blackbyrds jazz-soul fusion sextet, founded by Donald Byrd. Kevin co-wrote and co-penned many memorable songs for the band, including “Rock Creek Park”, the “All I Ask”-nominated hit, and the brassy, Grammy(r)-nominated “Unfinished Business,” which was a smash hit. In 1982, Kevin released his first solo LP, Special K. Kevin Toney really came to his senses with 1994’s Lovescape. It featured his song “Kings”, which was a standard in smooth jazz radio at the time. Kevin’s sound developed over seven more carefully crafted CDs, where he experimented with nearly every modern music palette. He was also a popular presence at the American jazz festivals. Kevin Toney’s music is not the only thing he has done. He has also performed with a wide range of artists, including Stevie Wonder and Nancy Wilson Whitney Houston. Two films he also scored: the period drama “Kings of the Evening”, starring Lynn Whitfield, Tyson Beckford, and the documentary “The Kinsey Collection”, which is about a couple who amassed the largest collection of African American artifacts in the United States. It is actually a work from their collection, “Fugue 2000” (oil and canvas), by Richard Mayhew. This cover graces Kevin Toney’s New American Suite. Kevin’s books include “The Virtuous man, Breaking the Men’s Code” and “The Virtuous Woman”. This book addresses the myths (“Men’s Code”) men have from an early age about marriage and family. It also discusses the baggage men bring to their marriages and the struggle to let them go. The Kevin Toney collection, Volume I and Heart of Gratitude Piano Solos are also published. Kevin serves as a mentor to the ‘Manformation Project’, a Los Angeles-based rites for passage program that connects boys aged 10-18 with Godly-minded men in order to foster positive growth. Kevin and Phyllis Toney, a well-known costuming designer, founded The Toney Family Foundation to support arts and music-related philanthropy. Kevin’s awards and achievements include two Grammy(r)nominations, three RIAA Gold Record awards, NAACP Image Award, National Endowment For the Arts Fellowship Grant, and is a honorary member of the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity. from

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