Although it took years for keyboardist Mark Etheredge to work through the feelings of isolation and identity issues that inspired the 10 songs he wrote on his third album, Connected, it took radio programmers no time at all to add the title cut to playlists, swiftly propelling it into the No. 1 spot on this week’s RadioWave chart and No. 11 on the Billboard singles tally. The collection produced by two-time GRAMMY® winner Paul Brown was released by Vipaka Records on Friday. Etheredge will celebrate the occasion on Sunday (February 28) with a live performance at contemporary jazz hot spot Spaghettini south of Los Angeles. A second album launch concert is scheduled for March 19, at Angelicas in the Bay Area near Etheredge’s hometown.
Etheredge is clearly in a happy place as evidenced by the plethora of joyous melodies he nimbly deploys throughout the Connected album. While tension is apparent on Lost In The Shuffle, the song that specifically addresses when he was plagued by bullying as a teenager, the notes and harmonies he utilizes to tell his story go from emotional and vulnerable to empowering and triumphant as his piano and keyboards fend off truculent taunts from Brown’s electric guitar and Greg Vail’s saxophone. With Brown helming the production, the record is plush and polished, augmented by a horn section and the presence of top-notch session players and soloists, including guitarist Chuck Loeb (Fourplay), saxophonist Andy Suzuki and trumpeter/horn arranger Lee Thornburg.