for anyone with their pulse on the sea of discarded unreleased gems, will no doubt have come across the dope Jack Herrera crew at some point. although most people think it’s one person (a natural conclusion to draw), the name represents a collective of like-minded artists and musicians spearheaded by its 3 core members: Jon B (aka Boogotti)., DominiQuinn & Silky Deluxe. the story goes that while touring for Jon’s album “Cool Relax” (1997) in Amsterdam with DominiQuinn & Silky Deluxe as Jon’s backup vocalists, the three of them basically composed most of the music on the tourbus (which came equpped with a fully built studio). i assume they hit the studio to polish up and finish off the complete album soon after, probly over the course of 1998/99 (information is so scant that all one can do is throw out educated guesses). for reasons guessed, assumed and somewhat unknown, the album never saw an official release. speculation ranges from “peeps weren’t ready” to a more-likely scenario involving the record label folding and subsequently not being able to release it.
despite this tragic setback, and having worn out my 50second samples of What U Feel & full version of City Lights, in the early 2000s i was finally able to procure the holy grail itself: the complete Jack Herrera studio album in its finished form. not only that, i also discovered two b-sides/non-album cuts: Déja Vu (which, according to the mp3 tag, was featured on the album sampler) and Jewel (which is a complete and total mystery, has no tags, and is (one assumes) just a really awesome bootleg track: awesome in song quality, but sadly lacking in CD audio quality). over the years i’ve seen the album pop up on random blogs and smiled, however more and more i’ve been seeing it in a truncated form. meaning, it’s being posted online minus 3 tracks: Revolution, Revolution (Interlude) & Jack Herrera For President. also, Déja Vu is listed as track 1 in these incarnations of the album, disrupting the natural order and flow of the original tracklist.
not only that, but ALL the copies i’ve ever found online had bits n pieces of the ends of tracks trimmed and cut. this is the most prominent version of the album on the net, but many moons ago a kind soul who actually had the original copy of the album on CD (i asked how, he said via the industry) ripped and sent me a gapless copy which flowed the way it was supposed to. as far as i know, the version i’m presenting to y’all today isn’t available anywhere else. the differences aren’t what you’d call major, but are definitely noticeable.
01. City Lights (5:13)
02. What U Feel (4:55)
03. Diamond In The Rough (4:57)
04. High Off You (4:59)
05. Say You Gotta Man (4:21)
06. Jack Shuffle (feat. Will.I.Am) (3:59)
07. Up Above My Head (5:19)
08. Jack Herrera For President (4:31)
09. Free To Believe (5:29)
10. For You (6:17)
11. Silver & Gold (feat. Black Thought) (5:16)
12. Revolution (Interlude) (1:18)
13. Revolution (5:14)
14. Be Free (5:40)
+ 2 non-album bonus tracks:
Déja Vu (3:38)
here’s the group’s bio which i managed to retrieve via Google cache from now-defunct site listen.fm, should help to shine more light on what they were all about:
“Who is Jack Herrera?” you ask. Well Jack isn’t one, but three: namely Silky Deluxe, DominiQuinn (One Word) and Boogotti aka Jon B, men with the spirit of Stevie, Roy Ayers, and Marvin coursing proudly through their veins, about to take their rightful place among their organically soulful contemporaries such as Lauryn Hill, D’Angelo, Erykah Badu, The Roots, and A Tribe Called Quest. Although Jack Herrera features platinum selling solo artist Jon B and he played a pivotal role in the band’s formation and record deal with Yab Yum/Epic, he’s keen to stress that Jack Herrera is totally a group project, with no leaders. Silky Deluxe and DominiQuinn are as equally important in the group as himself.
“It’s all about the music,” he says. “The important thing I want people to know about me is that I’m a musician, so rather than the emphasis being on me and my voice, it’s on the band as a whole, the songwriting and production. Piano is my first instrument so when you see Jack Herrera play live, I’m more behind the keyboards. Although stylistically it’s different, conceptually it’s kind of the same as when Phil Collins did his solo things and then he did the albums with Genesis.”
Indeed, the vibey jazz-soul/hip-hop of Jack Herrera couldn’t be more in contrast with the polished R&B radio formatted appeal of Jon’s solo work. “Jack Herrera is the epitome of what soul music stands for which is originality and depth,” he claims proudly. “There’s also a lot more hip-hop coming with Jack Herrera than on my own albums.”
Jon can take his place behind the keyboards in Jack Herrera, safe in the knowledge that in Deluxe and DominiQuinn, he has two showmen and vocalists of the highest standing. Men, who to him are more than fellow group members, but best friends too, having traveled the world with him as background vocalists on his last solo tour. In fact, the band found it’s name while on the road in Amsterdam, Holland.
“The band actually formed on the back of Jon’s tour bus, where he had a full studio built,” explains DominiQuinn. “After a show we would go back there and start writing. This was before we even thought about a band; then when Jon suggested it, it made perfect sense.”
A native of Philadelphia, the charismatic DominiQuinn cut his teeth vocally singing on hip-hop records while hanging out with fellow “Illadelph” artists and friends such as The Roots, Boyz II Men, and Will Smith. Spending ample time in L.A. he became a noted fixture on the live circuit through his band Jazzmatix, encompassing some of the city’s finest session musicians. It was through the band’s trumpet plater, Tyrone Griffith, who also doubled up tour chores with Jon B, that the two “cats” met.
Thoughtful and laid back, Silky Deluxe hails from a large musical family in Dallas. He originally moved to L.A. at 18 as part of a male vocal R&B group. However, when the Hollywood shuffle proved too much for the other members, Deluxe diverted his attention to songwriting, eventually landing a publishing deal and through that a solo deal at Epic Records. Although his album was never released, he had firmly established himself as a gifted singer/songwriter, working in the studio with Jon B and on stage with DominiQuinn.
More than just a desire to create good music, Jack Herrera represents three conscious souls yearning to express a unified and heartfelt message.
“The song ‘Silver & Gold’ means a lot to me because of the lyrics,” states Deluxe. “It kind of sums up what Jack Herrera is about. It’s saying that materialistic things – cars, houses, or whatever shouldn’t be the priority. The focus should be on gaining the knowledge to deal with all the ill situations in the world. You should look towards yourself and if the wealth and riches are meant to come, they will.” Adds DominiQuinn, “‘Free To Believe’ is simply stating to young people that it’s not all about the establishment, it’s about understanding 360 degrees of who you are, taking the knowledge of self and manifesting that into who you want to be.”
Jon B concurs, “The lyrics on the album are very spiritual and relate to our philosophies about freedom to express yourself the way you want to. The new millenium’s here and a lot of kids out there are lost.”
Musically Jack Herrera more than matches it’s worthy words, and that’s word! Whether it be the mellifluous “U & I” that comes over like classic Stevie Wonder at his most mellow, the gentle reggae infused “Say U Gotta Man” or the ruff n’ rugged basement jam, “Jack Herrera For President,” this band has flava for days.
“The live show comes first for us,” emphasizes DominiQuinn. “We all come from a live music background, soldiers on the front line of organix. The video and things of that nature are cool, but secondary. There’s no substitute for seeing Jack Herrera in a live performance.”
had this album seen the light of day, i am certain it woulda made some major noise within the arena of contemporary soul of the late 90s/early 2000s. most of all i’m sad that the musicians and artists who played and sang on the record won’t ever get their due recognition, as there are no existing liner notes (that i know of). after almost a decade of championing this unreleased, unheralded record, i still play it like it was a fresh release. reason? it’s so well-made that it’s timeless. it lives up to its title/not-a-title “Retro Futuristo”, digging backwards in order to go forwards. and in the end synthesising THE sound which marked a musical transition in soul over the 1999/2000 period. a return to live music that had a groove and had something to say at the same time. it’s a crime that won’t ever be rectified, but that’s why aficionados the world over still push the importance of giving it a listen. i felt it was time to throw my (rapidly-gaining) weight behind the preservation of this album so that it doesn’t get consigned to the depths of Internet Purgatory. so download, kick back, spark up and learn a lil somethinsomethin.