Raul Midon Returns With 'Don't Hesitate'

Raul Midon, 2014.

Raul Midon

Set includes Bill Withers co-write; cover of Who classic 'I Can See for Miles.'

At one point in the insightful 2009 film Still Bill, the legendary Bill Withers is shown co-writing a song with fellow singer/songwriter/musician Raul Midón. Now the pair's collaboration is ready, in Midon's words, "for public consumption."

The finished product, a Latin- and funk-vibed track titled "Mi Amigo Cubano," is one of 14 songs featured on Midón’s latest album, Don't Hesitate. Released this week through Artistry Music/Mack Avenue Records, the set delivers a pulsating mix of jazz, R&B, Latin and folk. Accompanying Midón on the rhythm-fueled ride are guest vocalists Lizz Wright (on "Keep Holding On") and Dianne Reeves ("Make It Better"). Blind since birth, Midón helmed the entire recording process from his home studio ("my laboratory") and also played most of the instruments including guitar, piano and percussion.

But Midón recalls he was a "bit flummoxed" when Withers proposed that they pen a song together in Spanish because "it's not really my first language. The groove chords and idea for the song came from him. What I did was figure out a way to translate into Spanish what he wanted to say to fit the song and its rhythm." Adding his signature style to the song is skilled bassist Marcus Miller.

And while Withers does no singing on "Mi Amigo Cubano" or elsewhere on Don't Hesitate, Midón credits him as a major "supporter. Every time I talk to him I always get one pearl about something. It never fails."

Midón also throws in an arresting take on the Who's 1967 classic "I Can See for Miles." While "leery" about doing covers, Midón says he "fell in love with the intensity of the song, Keith Moon's drumming and its harmonic vocabulary. It's a very advanced harmonic structure for a song today, much less in 1967 or for most rock 'n' roll songs. I took it as a challenge."

Early career credits for Midón include as a session singer for Shakira, Julio Iglesias and Jose Feliciano. Then he was signed by Grammy-winning producer Arif Mardin (Norah Jones, among others) to Capitol's Manhattan Records for the release of his major-label debut, 2005's  State of Mind. Midón's last project was the 2012 self-release Invisible Chains, Live From NYC.

In support of Don't Hesitate, Midón launched a U.S. tour on Sept. 25 in Austin, Texas. Upcoming stops include Honolulu (Oct. 2), Maui (Oct. 3), New York (Oct. 27), Cambridge, Mass. (Oct. 29), Arlington, Va. (Nov. 14), and Chicago (Dec. 3).


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