Throwback: Norman Connors-Invitation
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Norman Connors is a Philadelphian whose passion for jazz had him sitting in for Elvin Jones at a John Coltrane gig when he was in junior high school. Connors later studied jazz at Philadelphia’s Temple University and the Julliard School Of Music in New York City. His first recording was as a sideman on Archie Shepp’s 1967 Magic Of Juju. In 1972 he signed with Cobblestone Records after touring with Pharoah Sanders and recorded the album Dance Of Magic. The first five releases were true to his jazz heart but by 1975 he began to focus on R&B with great success. Saturday Night Special was the R&B breakthrough because of the title track, “Valentine Love” with Michael Henderson and Jean Carne and “Skin Diver.” The Michael Henderson penned “You Are My Starship” would be his ultimate earmark on the radio. Phyllis Hyman was another singer he successfully collaborated with to record “Betcha By Golly Wow” and “We Both Need Each Other.” “Invitation” was Connors’ work with the vocalist Ada Dyer from the album of the same name. Dyer had sent a demo of “Invitation” around the music industry and Connors offered her the chance to work with him. Mos Def re-popularized the song by sampling it for “Brown Sugar.” Connors and Dyer would have another significant duet with “Take It To The Limit” in 1980. Glenn Jones was introduced to the public on this album with the song “Melancholy Fire.” The musical ride between jazz and R&B continued to work well and enchant the fans with 17 albums to date. “Butterfly,” “This Is Your Life,” “Once I’ve Been There,” “Mr. C,” “Keep Doing It” and “I’m Your Melody” are just a handful of the songs that earned him respect as an R&B and jazz innovator far away from the scorn of jazz purists. Star Power from 2009 is Connors’ most recent project and it upholds his accomplished standing by expanding into his venture with smooth jazz with star veterans like Howard Hewett and Ray Parker Jr.