New Zealand born Kere Buchanan is an enormously talented producer and arranger, songwriter and pianist, even if maybe he’s best known as a drummer’s drummer having played with great Australian artists including Tina Arena and Marcia Hines.
His new album ‘Starting Over’ is a superb album, aptly named as he introduces his audience to a dynamic new phase of his career. His collaboration with the towering talents of people like Steve Clisby, Geoff Robertson, Glenn Bidmead, Michelle Martinez and Kimi Tupaea, provides a sublime edge to the Pop, R&B, Jazz and Blues genre that such a vocal line-up would suggest.
The album sounds not unlike a great 70s/80s R&B album like Anita Baker’s “Rapture” or any of Al Jarreau’s old albums so it’s easy to imagine Kere’s giving a tribute to David Foster and the heroes of those golden years. We met Kere for some questions:
Q. Hi Kere, we love ‘Starting Over’ and listening to your album it’s almost clear to us you’ve been influenced by David Foster. Can you tell us, if you remember, your first meeting with his music?
A. Thanks Christian. I truly appreciate it. Oh sure I have… I remember this vividly. You know that feeling when you hear something for the first time, and it stops you in your tracks or thoughts? ‘What’s that’? Who’s that? ‘Why does that sound so good’? ‘Why does this make me feel so good’? I distinctly remember this happening whilst driving one summer’s day in my hometown of Christchurch in New Zealand listening to the radio. This song came on, and I just flipped! It was ‘Jojo’ by Boz Scaggs. As a drummer I knew straight away it had to be Jeff Porcaro as I was right into him at the time having heard him with Toto, Steely Dan, and Boz’s albums ‘Down Two Then Left’ and ‘Silk Degrees’. That undeniable groove!
Right around that time I remember I was really starting to get into songwriters/arrangers and producers as those credits/liner notes on records always intrigued me and still do to this day. Who’s playing on this? Who wrote this? Who arranged this? Who produced this? Who engineered/mixed this? I went straight out and bought the album, and noticed this name on the there that I’d heard about. It was David Foster. I automatically fell in love with his influence he had on that record as a songwriter/collaborator/arranger and keyboardist.
That classic ‘live tracking’ sound/vibe with fender rhodes and acoustic piano, great guitars, great background vocals, beautiful string arrangements and happening rhythm tracks you could just fall into. That was it. I was hooked… Anything I could find I bought, either as a songwriter, arranger, keyboardist/pianist or producer.
Q. Which artists have also contributed to your musical background?
A. Well, I think I was very fortunate to grow up in what I humbly consider to be one of the most pivotal eras of popular contemporary music… (The mid to late 70’s to the late 80’s, early 90’s). Not meaning that earlier and latter eras weren’t as good, but for myself, this period was the most influential. Amazing musicians/songwriters/arrangers and producers. The likes of (to name a few) Quincy Jones, Phil Ramone, Tommy Lipuma, Russ Titelman, Arif Mardin, James Newton Howard, James Anthony Carmichael, Gary Katz, Stewart Levine, Jay Graydon, Rod Temperton, Chicago, Walter Becker/Donald Fagen, Boz Scaggs, Steve Kipner, Carole Bayer Sagar/Burt Bacharach, Jeremy Lubbock, Dave Grusin, Lee Ritenour, Larry Carlton, David Sanborn, Jerry Hey, Tom Scott, Greg Phillinganes, Nathan East, John ‘JR’ Robinson, Carlos Vega, Robbie Buchanan, all the Toto guys and not forgetting of course Lennon/McCartney!
Q. What’s your definition of ‘Producer’ ?
A. In my humble opinion for what it’s worth, the term ‘Producer’ gets used a little too loosely these days, but I did notice particularly in the mid to late 70’s to the late 80’s, a ‘Producer’ had more feathers to his/her cap. A musician, arranger, composer/co-writer, collaborator, an engineer and at times a psychiatrist, but most importantly, a tunesmith! Making those choices, along with the artist/group, that certain songs should make the final cut, and that the album is well balanced with different flavours and colours to make the artist/group shine. Also, there were a lot of Producer/Engineer partnerships around then… Quincy Jones/Bruce Swedien, Tommy LiPuma/Al Schmitt, Lee Ritenour/Don Murray, George Duke/Erik Zobler, David Foster/Humberto Gatica etc and I think this made for a stronger production team. Having a killer engineer just makes it SO easy!
Q. Speaking again about Foster and your album, which are the closest songs to Foster’s style in your opinion?
A. David’s influence on my recent release (along with Jay Graydon) was tantamount! Six songs in particular on the record are ‘More Than You Know’, ‘Waiting For Love’, ‘Love’s Stronger’, ‘Easy Does It’, ‘Through The Tears’ and the title cut, ‘Starting Over’. David’s effect on me as a composer/arranger and producer over the years has taught me to have balance in a song, (very similar to the great Dianne Warren who he’s collaborated with over the years). A great song should have balance both rhythmically and lyrically along with an arrangement that the listener can immediately identify with, and I tried especially hard on these 6 tracks with David’s strong influence in mind.
Q. Which are your favourite Foster’s songs?
A. Well, there’s way too many to mention here, but some personal favourites are (either as Producer/Musician/Arranger/Songwriter) ‘Hard Habit Break’, ‘Please Hold On’ (Chicago) ‘Jojo’, ‘You Can Have Me Anytime’, ‘Look What You’ve Done To Me’ (Boz Scaggs) ‘Just Once’ (Quincy Jones) ‘How Do You Keep The Music Playing’? (James Ingram) ‘Morning’, ‘Black & Blue’ (Al Jarreau) ‘Even A Fool Can See’, (Peter Cetera) ‘The Only One’, (Lionel Richie) ‘After The Love Is Gone’ (Airplay/Earth Wind & Fire), Nothin’ You Can Do About It, (Airplay/Manhattan Transfer), ‘Through The Fire’, (Chaka Khan) ‘What A Fool Believes, (Aretha Franklin) ‘Why Goodbye’ (Peabo Bryson) and any Natalie Cole.
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