Happily “Connected”: Contemporary jazz keyboardist Mark Etheredge’s album resonates with listeners.
Although it took years for keyboardist Mark Etheredge to work through the feelings of isolation and identity issues that inspired the ten 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 RadioWave chart and No. 6 on the Billboard singles tally. The collection was produced by two-time GRAMMY® winner Paul Brown.
The first radio single "Connected" ranked No. 31 on Billboard's Smooth Jazz 2016 Year End Chart and ranked No. 2 on the Groove Jazz Music Top 100 for 2016. On January 3, 2017 the second radio single "Roger That" debuted at No. 2 on Billboard's Most Added Smooth Jazz Songs Chart.
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.
As the public continues to discover the entirety of “Connected,” interest has continued to be fanned by an abundance of airplay and the enthusiastic response from critics. Below are a handful of excerpts from the initial reviews:
“You will instantly fall for keyboardist Mark Etheredge…With an approach that’s so hypnotically appealing, Etheredge brings that contemporary jazzy, bluesy, sassy, sauntering jazz along with some great big band horn stylings.” – The Smooth Jazz Ride
“Mark Etheredge has thrown down with Connected his musical gauntlet in the competition of the best smooth jazz piano player.” – Smooth Jazz Daily
“As easy as the music flows, Etheredge’s playing is far from simpering or simplistic. He knows how to play the deeper grooves.” - AXS
“A real winner for smooth jazz fans that were sorry when radio programmers turned the sound into wallpaper, this cat knows his stuff and ain’t afraid to strut it.” – Midwest Record
“Music that celebrates the optimism that comes with positive human connection.” – Soul and Jazz and Funk
“This is a CD destined to be one of the best of 2016.” – Smooth Jazz Therapy
In addition to his work as a solo artist, Etheredge has performed alongside notable artists such as Tom Politzer (Tower of Power), Danny Hull (Journey), Charlene Moore (Weather Girls), Jeanie Tracy (Two Tons of Fun), Charles Williams (Johnny Otis), Clifford Coulter (John Lee Hooker), Clare Fischer, Marsha Stevens, and more. His groups have opened for Bobby McFerrin, Sergio Mendes, Tuck and Patti, Betty Carter, Sheila Jordan, and numerous others.
Etheredge studied jazz performance at De Anza College and San Jose State University. On his musical journey he absorbed a wide spectrum of genres including jazz, pop, classical, rock, gospel, blues, R&B, Afro-Cuban, and Afro-Brazilian styles.