It’s the smooth jazz equivalent of passing the torch to a new generation – a rare magical collaboration that happens when a hip young artist with a few hits under his belt jams with a genre legend to create the next big radio smash.
That’s happening right now with the release of “H.A.D,” the fiery and funked out anthem by saxophonist Michael J Thomas featuring guitar great Chieli Minucci, who is still at the top of his game after 40 years as both a solo artist and co-founder/leader of Special EFX. Both are #1 Billboard charting artists, with Thomas hitting the pole position with his hit radio singles “Baby Coffee” and instrumental re-imagining of Lady Gaga’s “I’ll Never Love Again” and Special EFX’s “Deep as the Night” being chosen as Billboard’s #1 Smooth Jazz Song of the Year 2018.
Produced by Thomas, Carl Griffin (also Thomas’ A&R Director and mentor) and keyboardist Trammell Starks, the buoyant, soulfully infectious track features exciting improvisational solo spotlights by Thomas and Minucci, along with some spirited back and forth “conversations,” spot on harmony accents by the guitarist and sparkling moments as the two intertwine their robust sounds on later iterations of the powerful hook. The groove is driven by Thomas’ go-to rhythm section of bassist Sam Sims and drummer Louis K. Newsom.
Thomas has always had a passion for thought provoking titles, and “H.A.D.” is no exception. It’s an acronym for “Having a Day,” a pet tongue in cheek phrase he and Griffin exchange when either or both are indeed, having a day – whether amazing/wonderful or difficult/stressful.
The saxophonist is releasing the track on the heels of two singles released earlier in 2022 – a dynamic sociopolitical twist on Tears For Fears’ iconic “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” featuring Thomas on sax and vocals, and a guest appearance by trumpet legend Randy Brecker; and Thomas’ most recent smooth jazz success, “The OG Bounce,” which peaked at #15 and remains on the Billboard Smooth Jazz Songs chart after 19 weeks and counting.
“H.A.D” is the fourth lead single from Thomas’ upcoming EP Outside the Door – a run began with the holiday song “It’s Christmas,” a collaboration with Maysa. The collection will also feature a fresh take on Stevie Wonder’s “I Wish.” He’s been stirring things up in the contemporary instrumental world since “Baby Coffee,” which currently has over 2.7 million streams on Apple Music. One of his other major hits was “Sippin’ The Yak, which hit #2 on the charts, remained in the Top 5 for nine weeks and currently has over 1.5 million streams on Apple Music and 1.3 million streams on Spotify (unheard of numbers for smooth jazz!).
Outside the Door will break ground in the smooth jazz genre as the first original recording to utilize and be mixed with the revolutionary immersive Dolby Atmos technology. Its sonic design expands on existing surround sound systems by adding height channels, allowing sounds to be interpreted as three-dimensional objects. The EP will be released in its entirety first to all platforms that support Dolby Atmos, including Apple Music, Tidal, and Amazon.