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Smooth Jazz Drives E Street's Federici
With Bruce Springsteen devoting his energies to a solo album and tour, his E Street Band keyboardist is striking out on his own.With Bruce Springsteen devoting his energies to a solo album and tour, his E Street Band keyboardist is striking out on his own. A sideman for the Boss for more than three decades, Danny Federici is gearing up for the July 26 release of "Out of a Dream," the second instrumental disc under his own name and first for V2.
Unlike his 1997 debut, "Flemington" (Music Master), the new set is a focused smooth jazz collection comprising eight original songs and two covers -- the Rolling Stones' "Miss You" and Bob Dylan's "Knockin' on Heaven's Door."
"Flemington" was created from fragments of "a lot of music and a lot of ideas" stemming from an attempt to break into writing music for film and television in Los Angeles, Federici tells Billboard.com. "I compiled a whole record and then I figured I was done with it -- self-serving of some sort."
The music on "Out of a Dream," produced by Mike Case, has a more intentional target. "We really thought about this radio [format] and how we can still do the record justice. I can still let people hear me and what I'm capable of," he explains.
No matter what, Federici understands that he's known for his keyboard and organ contributions to the Springsteen canon, despite the fact that he is a classically trained accordion player and that smooth jazz is closer to his heart.
"I find myself having to educate people to the fact that they think I'm just this rock'n'roll guy. But that's not the case," he says. "This is the kind of music that I listen to -- this is what I play."
Not wanting to fall into a trap by layering the album with fellow E Streeters, Federici and Cates drafted the talents of musicians with eclectic backgrounds, such as percussionist Daniel de Los Reyes (Sting, Shakira), guitarists Jon Johnston (Earth Wind & Fire) and Todd Parsnow (Kirk Franklin, Bootsy Collins) and bassist Juan Van Dunk (the Police, KC & the Sunshine Band).
And while he hopes to return to the studio with Springsteen and his longtime cohorts sometime this year, Federici plans to assemble a band and mount a tour behind "Out of a Dream," and make and effort to establish a career as a smooth jazz artist.
"I'm doing something here that I enjoy doing," he says. "It's the kind of music that if people would latch onto it and allow me to do this, I could do for a long, long time."