Bobby Caldwell might quite possibly be one of R&B’s best-kept secrets…a true soul gem. Well known to most R&B aficionados and tucked ever-so-softly in between every hip-hop heads’ Earth Wind & Fire and Hall and Oats record collections. Known around the world for his 1978 international classic “What You Won’t Do For Love”, most of the rest of his wildly diverse & impressive catalog was just waiting to be discovered….that is until J Dilla intervened. Right at the turn of the millennium, with one genius move, Dilla re-introduced an entire generation to the brilliance that is Bobby Caldwell. In what might possibly be the best hip hop ‘love song’ of all time (“The Light”), Common raps the verses with grace & virtuosity, but it’s Bobby Caldwell on the hook that brought everything together. Dilla did that.
About 10 years later, Jack Splash was following a similar path as Bobby…disregarding trends and making his own special brand of soul music for the music-lovers. Critically acclaimed worldwide as the front man for his 15-piece funk band Plantlife, Jack pulled a 180 and stopped touring entirely. He began writing and producing for Cee-Lo Green, Alicia Keys, Kendrick Lamar, John Legend and several more. Grammy Awards & platinum plaques came next. In interviews though, instead of talking about himself and his commercial success, Jack was talking about HIS idols. He was talking about Earth Wind & Fire, Sly Stone, Steely Dan, Prince & BOBBY CALDWELL…..It just so happened that Bobby was listening.
To make a very long & weird story short, Bobby Caldwell’s wife reached out to Jack Splash directly via a Facebook page that the Caldwell family had set up for their dog named Stella (true story). Jack thought it was a hoax so he had his assistant intervene to vet out the impersonator. Much to Jack’s surprise, his assistant reported back to him that it WASN’T a joke, Bobby actually DID want to meet with Jack. They set a date, met in Miami, shared several glasses of whiskey, decided they were musical soul mates & formed a new band…they called it Cool Uncle.
Just like both Bobby and Jack’s catalogs, the music they make together as Cool Uncle isn’t that easy to define. It definitely has roots in classic soul, but also includes elements of funk, hip hop, rock and all sorts of electronic subtleties. Bobby and Jack called some of their friends and musical co-conspirators to come join the party. Cee-Lo, Mayer Hawthorne, Eric Biddines, Jessie Ware, JD8 and even the legendary Deniece Williams came through for the pot-luck. The end result is a wild ride steeped in soul and groove, but peppered with exciting and unexpected twists and turns. The types of twists and turns that future Dilla’s might end up sampling.
Jack explains, “We really have a tremendous amount of fun working together. It’s kind of like we’re both kids in this great big candy shop constantly exploring…I guess that’s REALLY where our common ground is, we both get inspiration from EVERYTHING beautiful, regardless of it’s supposed genre or era.” The end result is quite special and just might end up bringing Bobby’s unique brand of soul music to an entirely new generation. Bobby doesn’t seem phased though, as he explains, “I lived in Miami in the 1980’s man, if you can make it out of there alive, trust me, everything else is easy.” A cool uncle indeed.
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