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Frank McComb

Frank McComb

Frank McComb
@ the Hideaway, Pizza On The Park,
PizzaExpress Jazz Club, Jazz Cafe, London
Photography 26 November 2011 - 22 August 2005

Click an image to enlarge.

Frank McComb has the potential to completely re-arrange the telephone book, your shopping list and my wanted record list, then sing them all – and somehow make it all sound soulful! However, McComb’s stuttering musical journey seems to be having an effect on his creative output (from a recording perspective as well as the live touring circuit in the UK). McComb’s determination to ‘do it all himself’ over the past few years has probably contributed to his lapse in focus. However, I am confident that faith, love and time (as well as a trusty producer) will bring McCom’s focus back to where his die-hard fans want it to be… ‘Releasing high quality recordings AND producing memorable live performances!’

“Keep pushin’ on Frank…!” (February 2012)


Frank McComb was introduced to Gerald Levert after working as the keyboard player and musical director for the Rude Boys in 1990. He was just 20 at the time. McComb moved to Philadelphia and worked with none other than Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff (Gamble & Huff, The Sound Of Philadelphia). His next move would be Los Angeles, where his skills as keyboard player, singer and songwriter where much sought-after. This move would prove fruitful, as he was able to secure a position in Branford Marsalis’ experimental ‘Buckshot Lefonque’ set. The album “Music Evolution” released 1997 on the Columbia record label was a brave eclectic mix of hip-hop / jazz / rap. Thankfully McComb was able to put his soulful stamp on the albums three ballads “Another Day”, “Better Than I Am” and “Phoenix” (which highlight McComb’s exceptional vocal abilities).

By now McComb’s fan base was starting to gather pace and after signing to MoJazz, it seemed we would not have to wait too long before we would be able to get our hands on more material from this man. Alas this was not to be, as recorded material, which was destined for McComb’s debut solo album never saw an official release. The few die-hard fans that did manage to get their hands on any material from these sessions say the canning of this album was an absolute crime. Especially as McComb was able to pay homage to Stevie Wonder by including the magical “Golden Lady on this set!

Fast forward to the millennium (2000). With further assistance from Branford Marsalis, Frank McComb now signs with Columbia records. After much airplay of the delightfully Jazzy / soulful “Future Love”, waiting and more waiting…promises and further promises, the album” Love Stories” finally gets a release. The wheels seemed finally set in motion for McComb’s career to fast track. After all, “Future Love” was filled from start to finish with sheer ‘quality music’. Unfortunately Columbia records marketing cart seemed to be guided by a three-legged donkey and custom fitted with ‘square wheels’. There was much deliberation on just how to market this album. Was it Jazz, was it soul… did we care?

“Future Love” highlighted McComb’s many talents. Not only did this man’s voice and keyboard wizardry conjure images of the late great Donny Hathaway (I should know, I am Hathaway’s biggest fan), but also his ‘Stevie Wonderesque’ key changes and articulate ‘storytelling’ all assisted in bringing this album alive. This album also forms part of the soundtrack to my life, and continues to be a major force behind the birth and growth of this site (track 13, Keep pushin’ on).

2002 saw the release of “The Truth vol1” on the Expansion record label, an album produced by Steve ‘The Scotsman’ Harvey. It took me a little while for this album to grow on me (though I knew it eventually would). I recognised the tracks “Better off without you” and “Actions speak louder than words”, which had been previously released on an album by Brigette Mcwilliams, “Too much woman”, 1997. This album also carries a similar feel to McComb’s “The Truth”, not too surprising considering both albums shared production input from Steve Harvey. Critical judgements aside, “The Truth” is yet another fine recording with outstanding moments which include the funky, “Watcha Gonna Do”, co written and features Ledisi on vocals, the innocently delivered “When You Call My Name” and “Cupid’s Arrow” to name a few. This album also suffered from poor exposure and distribution issues, to date only officially receiving a UK release.

In 2004, “Straight From The Vault” thankfully did reach our shores, but Frank McComb decided it was time to take control of ‘ his album and his own destiny’. Just as I have absorbed the contents of the “Future Love” album and used the lyrics and messages McComb has cleverly interwoven into positive energy The intro “White line in the sky” may only be one minute fifty seconds long, but it is nearly two minutes of sheer bliss (the glass is half full scenario). This track exudes warmth in both McComb’s vocal delivery and his superb keyboard and programming genius. . McComb has not only written, produced, arranged, programmed and sung his heart out on “Straight From The Vault”, he has also released and distributed the album himself. His ‘do it yourself’ approach is one that I truly admire and respect, however, production values occasionally suffer here with other tracks just not reaching their full ‘sparkling’ potential.

“The thing I failed to do” is an open and honest ballad, with lyrics, which could be sung by most men at some stage in their relationship (if you are an honest man). Again McComb’s vocals and swirling keyboard skills are key to the success of this track.

McComb takes his keyboards to new heights throughout this set, specifically on the instrumentals “King of the open road” and “Morning glory”, which could be a 2004 version of “Friends and Strangers” (a composition made famous by Dave Grusin & Ronnie Laws). It must have felt great to just ‘let loose’ on his keyboards. It certainly sounds as if McComb had fun.

McComb has an innate ability to deliver a ballad from many unique angles. Obviously his experiences are key to his success, but it is not easy to present your experiences to others in such and profoundly clear and unique way. (Luther Vandross could do this). Both men and women can grasp what McComb is trying to say. The track “Left alone”, like many of McComb’s ballads, communicate to all who are willing to listen.

Jazz café review

Tonight at the Jazz café Frank McComb’s luscious soul / jazz offerings, the love he has for his work and perfectionism, where on display for all to see. I need say no more. This gig was the bomb! McComb could have easily sat behind either his keyboard, or piano all-night and allowed his adoring fans to sing each of his own songs back to him. Thankfully he didn’t!

I did notice a big difference in Frank McComb’s spirit this time at the Jazz Café. I witnessed McComb perform mainly “Future Love” tracks here on his first visit a few years ago. Though his performance was second to none (as expected) his spirit seemed a little jaded back then.

This time around he was not only on top form, but his spirit shone like a star in the midnight sky. He was a man on a mission. He is a musician who produces great music, he has a great career ahead of him and he is in charge!

I was looking forward to having a chat with McComb in detail about his life, his music, the past and the future after this gig, but he was busy signing autographs and posing for photographs with adoring young ladies who hung around. I left him to his adoring fans this time, maybe next time I’ll get the chance. I’ll keep you informed!

"Keep pushin' on Mr McComb!"

Robin Francis
© Michael Valentine Studio Ltd.

Frank McComb & Band

Frank McComb

Frank McComb

Frank McComb

Frank McComb & Tony Remy

Carl Vandenbossche

Frank McComb

Tony Remy

Thomas Dyani

Thomas Dyani

Jazz Cafe patrons

Tony Remy

Frank McComb

frank McComb


You may be thinking, "Why have they included a Marilyn Scott album with Frank's page?"
Well, Frank is actually featured on her album.
Marilyn Scott's album is 'nice'. With the inclusion of Frank's vocals on "You don't know what love is",
her album suddenly becomes outstanding (in my ears anyway).

I wish I could say the same for the Buckshot Lefonque set...!
But I will say that this album is worth buying for Frank's contribution’s alone. Especially on “Another day”.

The 1995 bootleg CD is an album Frank recorded while signed to Motown.
The album was never released. In fact it was never even mastered, no artwork for the cover etc
Copies of this CD were being sold for over £100. Frank is now selling a bootleg of his own work!

For further information, or to purchase Frank McComb’s albums click the link below.

A tribute to the masters Straight From The Vault The Truth
The 1995 Bootleg Love Stories Buckshot Leqfonque - Music Evolution



Click the albums below to read more about each artist.

Donny Hathaway - Live at the Troubadour. (Click to go to the Donny Hathaway page) Brigette McWilliams - Too much woman. (Click to go to the Brigette McWilliams page) Marilyn Scott - Walking With Strangers. (Click to go to her page)

 Go back to the soul gallery.

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