Good news for all the fans of high-pitched male tenor voices: on September 14, Chazz Dixon released a new album titled Can’t Crush This Feeling (Chazzdixon.com). After careful calculation, it turns out that this is actually Chazz’s 16th full album. Almost exactly a year ago he released All the Little Things, and prior to that in 2020 two CDs: Anachronism and Butterflies. We must also add to his discography one CD deriving from 2015 that we’ve completely neglected so far: Heartache Is Just Around the Corner by the Mature Groove Orchestra featuring Chazz Dixon (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqMe2dDG0IM).
Can’t Crush This Feeling is available for digital downloads and streaming. Chazz: “I may possibly make a limited number available in CD for souvenirs at live shows and appearances.” All the songs are new ones with the exception of two well-known covers, Hello Stranger and You Can’t Hurry Love. Barbara Lewis hit the #1 Rhythm & Blues and #3-Hot in 1963 (in Billboard) with Hello Stranger. Chazz: “I teared up listening to it one day last December. A flood of memories, the romanticism of the period, it all hit me and I wanted to share my memory of AM radio, how the music back then united all of us everywhere. I’d read of Vern Allison, of the Dells, pacing Chess studios during the recording of the original by Barbara Lewis shouting ‘this is gonna be a hit, this is gonna be a hit’, and of course it was not only for Barbara but for Yvonne Elliman years later. I just couldn’t let it go. I had to record it, to recreate that magic if you would. In fact, the entire album is a homage to Hello Stranger, my way of saying hello to a long lost friend, and relationships that, try as we might, don’t always mend but the music captures an essence that our hearts will never let come to an end.”
YOU CAN’T HURRY LOVE
“After five decades of recording music, and over six decades of writing it, I was finally recommended and accepted into the Recording Academy (Grammys) as a full-fledged voting member, class of 2022. And the first official release as a Grammy member was You Can’t Hurry Love. Never give up doing what you love!”
The Supremes hit the #1 spot - both Hot and Rhythm & Blues – in 1966 with You Can’t Hurry Love. “Flashback: my parents are divorced. My dad, the single parent, my younger sister and me are in the basement of Sears department store looking at bikes that he couldn’t yet afford, when the Supremes version plays over the PA system in the store. Time stood still! That moment is forever frozen in my mind. Years later after including it in my show, my second pianist and conductor, the late Mary Davis, made me promise that I would record it. However, I never got around to it. Then Lamont Dozier passed in August 2022 and I knew I had to keep my promise. I love the music of Holland-Dozier-Holland. Lamont was timeless whether he was writing with HDH or Phil Collins. My original single mix is slightly slower than the album version. I sped it up and made slight changes to the album mix”. You can listen to the single mix athttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4AlDrxsSyfQ.
I CARE FOR YOU
On Chazz’s albums the highlights for me are his beautiful, serene ballads and on this set I was most delighted to listen to the laid-back, atmospheric I Can’t Explain It, the softly pulsating and romantic Now That We’re Together and the sweetly flowing Can’t Crush This Feeling. Also the concluding song, the lamenting and poignant That’s Cold leaves its mark. I must still mention the mellow Doo Woo for Love, whichactually utilizes nostalgic doo-wop elements in its arrangement.
Chazz Dixon is the main producer, engineer, mixer and songwriter, but on four tracks his son, Barope “Dj_Payday” Dixon, was in charge. One of them is the featured single, I Care for You, a smooth song with a pounding beat, whereas Darling Baby is the only genuinely up-tempo track on the set, and a captivating floater named Never Gonna Let You Go excited with quite a full sound to it.
I’ve noted earlier that on some tracks Chazz uses sparse instrumentation, on misty ballads it doesn’t bother but on funkier tracks the overall sound doesn’t take off, this is the case on three tracks: Are You Listening, Jungle of Love and Imagination. But please remember that his enchanting ballads and catchy mid-tempo numbers form the majority of the repertoire on this set.
Dj_Payday is the main musician on three tracks – I Care for You, Darling Baby and That’s Cold – and on the rest of the tunes Chazz himself plays all the instruments, keyboards, bass, guitars, percussions, horn synths, drums, drum machines, and even strings. My guess is that when listening to this set you can’t crush the feeling of warmth and empathy that reflects from Chazz’s music.