Pianist, singer, and impresario Neal Richardson’s second album, The Maximalist, is set to be released on Splash Point Records on 16 June 2023. Born in Croydon in 1966, Richardson says that jazz is in his blood and he couldn’t imagine doing anything else. The Maximalist features a mix of re-worked standards and original compositions.
Eclectic Mix of Songs
Among the covers on the album is a rendition of “You Are My Sunshine,” a 1940 classic known to lift spirits. Richardson also pays tribute to Ray Charles with a version of “Come Rain or Come Shine,” as he considers Charles one of his all-time heroes.
The album explores the range of emotions experienced throughout life’s journey, from hardships to the love and connection found in relationships. One of the most poignant tracks is a cover of Kris Kristofferson’s “Help Me Make it Through the Night,” which Richardson includes despite potential criticism for its inclusion on a jazz album.
Talented Band Members
Richardson’s band features talented musicians such as saxophonist Jo Fooks, his wife Sue Richardson on trumpet, Mark Bassey on trombone, Luke Rattenbury on guitar, Alex Eberhard on drums, and his regular duo partner Miles Danso on double bass. Each musician brings their own unique flavor and style to the album, enhancing its overall appeal.
For example, Danso is a big fan of Duke Ellington and brings infectious playing to the swing track “Comes Love.” Rattenbury, who plays a lot of Afrobeat and salsa in his other work, excels at rhythmic approach, according to Richardson.
Personal Stories and Strong Emotions
Many of Richardson’s compositions on the album reflect his personal experiences and emotions. Songs like “Opium” and “The Cage (When Will It End?)” showcase his questioning nature and delve into topics like religion and existential angst.
One song that resonates with audiences is “The Cold Sea,” which is inspired by Richardson’s love for swimming in the ocean near his home in Seaford. He finds that swimming helps put life’s worries into perspective and has even inspired his wife, Sue, to join him in the activity.
Overcoming Challenges and Connecting with Audiences
Discussing the impact of Brexit on the music industry and the difficulties musicians have faced during the pandemic, Richardson shares how he lost 107 gigs in two hours when the first lockdown was announced. Despite these challenges, he has worked tirelessly to rebuild his career and continue to connect with audiences through live performances.
Richardson has performed in more than 50 countries, including with his acclaimed show “Not King Cole.” He believes that the best part of playing live is the communication on stage and with the audience. His hope is that his new album, The Maximalist, will bring pleasure and provoke thought among those who listen to it.
For details of live performances, visit nealrichardson.com.