Classics: Leon Ware – On The Beach (Atjazz Love Soul Remix) (Expansion House)
The contribution of Leon Ware, as a composer, songwriter and eventually producer is one of a kind. Remembered for his work on the Marvin Gaye‘s classic ‘I Want You’, his so to say client list most likely speaks for itself. Including luminaries such as Minnie Ripperton, Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson. But also The Isley Brothers and Donny Hathaway. Not to mention Maxwell whom he helped producing ‘Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite’ back in 1996. An effort seen as one of the landmark albums in the said Neo-Soul genre.
A seasonal gem we heavily championed back then on our Facebook page, ‘On The Beach’ would most definitely have found its place in our 10 essential 2011 tracks. Should our site have been operational at the time. With extra thanks due to Atjazz who although remaining respectful with the original atmosphere of the song, gave it a modern groove twist with absolute class.
To be honest, I ‘ll never understand quite why Expansion Records label CEO Ralph Tee released ‘On The Beach’ as the flipside of ‘Step By Step’.
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A native of Detroit, MI, Leon Ware has left some indelible trace in the history of contemporary music. This, as a songwriter and/or composer. But also as an artist on his own rights, in a period that covered no less than five decades. From the early 70’s to the 2010’s.
Crafting music was just in Ware‘s DNA as a matter of fact. With the latter appearing as a member of vocal group the Romeos in his teens. Meanwhile sharing the bill with Ty Hunter, who was to become a member of The Originals, and Lamont Dozier.
After a short period at ABC Records, he started his career as a songwriter for Motown back in 1971. Co-writing ‘Got To Have You Back’ for The Isley Brothers. Then collaborating with Ike & Tina Turner on six songs for their United Artists ‘Nuff Said’ album. Coming to work with Diana Ross‘ younger brother T-Boy that same year, one of the songs they wrote – ‘I Wanna Be Where You Are’ – got eventually picked up by Michael Jackson on his ‘Got To Be There’ album.
Ware wrote for countless artists, and eventually setting up a bigger reputation for himself as an author/composer than an artist. This despite an obvious sensibility. Among the ones he came to collaborate with, Quincy Jones (‘If Ever I Lose This Heaven’). But also Minnie Riperton (‘Inside My Love’). Not to mention Marvin Gaye with the memorable ‘I Want You’. A song Ware initially thought to be included on his second album which sadly flopped.
Ware most likely focused on his activities as a songwriter during the 80’s. Providing material for a whole bunch of luminaries. From Teena Marie to Michael Wycoff (‘Looking Up To You’). But also Loose Ends, James Ingram and Bobby Womack to name a few. The second half of the 90’s seeing him contributing to Maxwell‘s debut-album, ‘Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite’. Itself considered as one of the landmark albums in the then burgeoing Neo-Soul genre. Remember ‘Sumthin’ Sumthin”? With this bringin’ extra interest to his earlier works by the likes of the Hip-Hop scene.
By 2009, Ware was recovering from treatment for prostate cancer. One of his latest releases was ‘On The Beach’ back in 2011. A jewel he created near his Malibu home with the attitude of Summer with a lyric that continues Leon‘s sensual and romantic allure. No to mention a(nother) top class remixing work courtesy of Atjazz. Meanwhile, he more recently appeared along with Brazilian singer Lucas Arruda. This on the 2015 released phonky cool ‘Melt The Night’ with an XL Middleton remix.
Leon Ware sadly died in Marina del Rey, CA on Feb. 23, 2017 from complications of the disease. He was 77.
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