Classics: Will Downing – A Love Supreme (4th & Broadway)
I heard of Will Downing as a solo artist for the very first time back in 1988. This when given a listen to his eponymous album at Paris’s famous defunct store Champs-Disques. And I litteraly got overwhelmed by his rendition of ‘A Love Supreme’. A cover version of John Coltrane‘s classic of the likes to which he added lyrics which he co-wrote. And, in the meantime, its aditional remixes courtesy of David Morales and Frankie Knuckles on the 12inch package.
Will most definitely reached one of his peaks while bringin’ ‘A Love Supreme’ to a new dimension. Meanwhile beautifully surrounded by
producer Arthur Baker with whom he’d previously worked as a member of Wally Jump Jr & The Criminal Element. But also Lew Kirton on backing vocals and the late David Cole of the C&C Music Factory fame (keyboards, piano). Not to mention Stanley Turrentine responsible for the blowing sax solo.
In other words, a supreme of talents for… ‘A Love Supreme’!
A native of Brooklyn, NY, Will Downing enrolled in Erasmus Hall High School. Eventually graduating back in 1981 with Kedar Massenburg who later became president of Motown. Then attending college at Virginia Union University in Richmond, VA, before returning to the Big Apple.
Standing among his first recordings, his contribution as a backing singer to Lew Kirton‘s memorable ‘Talk To Me’ back in 1983. The first in a series of performances that saw him collaborating with numerous artists. From Jennifer Holiday to Nona Hendryx and Warp 9. Not to mention Johnny Kemp and Working Week. Then eventually joinin’ forces with former Rockers Revenge, Donnie Calvin, and Craig Derry. Thus formin’ the transient Wally Jump, Jr. & The Criminal Element with famous producer Arthur Baker. With this reunion givin’ birth to NYC early House gems such as ‘Turn Me Loose’ and ‘Tighten Up (I Just Can’t Keep Dancin’)’. This in addition to the Disco-influenced ‘Private Party’ in 1987.
Another year went from then with Downing signing as a solo artist on Island Records. Then soon after delivering his eponymous debut-album with Arthur Baker in charge of the production. And, by that, delivering what stands as his biggest classic to date. In other words, his cover version of John Coltrane‘s classic ‘A Love Supreme’. This with alternative remixes courtesy of David Morales and Frankie Knuckles. The following year seeing him not only releasing his second album (‘Come Together As One’). But also brilliantly sharing the bill with Mica Paris on ‘Where Is The Love’.
His 1991 ‘A Dream Fulfilled’ album got him to deliver another cover version. This time takin’ on where War had left with their seminal ‘The World Is A Ghetto’. This with Frankie Knuckles once more in charge of the remix duties. Meanwhile the 1993 ‘Love’s The Place To Be’ is his best selling album to date with more than 500,000 sold worldwide. With thanks to gems such as the opening ‘There’s No Living Without You’. And even more to the one of a kind ‘Nothing Has Ever Felt Like This’ along with Rachelle Ferrell.
‘All The Man You Need’, his only album for Motown back in 2000, saw him duetting once again. This time with strong>Chanté Moore on the smooth ‘When You Need Me’. And, despite from suffering from polymyositis since December 2006, Will has kept on recording along with time. With the last of his 20 albums to date – ‘Soul Survivor’ – seeing the light back in September 2017 on Shanachie…