Klef Notes

Music Reviews

Jerry Hull's "Celebrate in the Sunshine”

What would you say if I said Mozart had a hand in creating the music that is now labeled Rock N Roll?  You would probably think I have had way too much to drink, unless you are really into musicology and know that what I just said is really true. 

And even though he did not single handedly design this genre of music, he did create the foundation that helped build this genre. 

For example, let’s look at the period of music known as Baroque.  According to online dictionaries, Baroque music is defined as a form of music where composers and performers used more elaborate music ornamentation, changed musical notations, and developed new instrumental playing techniques. In a nutshell, isn’t that what happened to music that preceded Rock N Roll?  Wasn’t those preceding music forms altered in its notation, instrumentally altered in playing techniques, etc. thus making the final outcome a genre called Rock N Roll?  Yes!  

And since Mozart was one of the musical icons of the Baroque period choosing NOT to play music the way it was intended socially (a true musical rebel), and since that Baroque-way of altering music transcended down into what shaped genres into Rock N Roll, then Mozart heavily influenced what has become Rock N Roll today and thus was a ROCK STAR of his period.  This in turn was displayed in many artists pre-dating current Rock N Roll like Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, etc. how they also changed musical notations, they also developed new instrumental playing techniques, and they also blended many influential musical styles of the norm of their period into their own original talents.  

So let me introduce you to the Mozart of the Millennium - Jerry Hull! 

Hull is a singer, classically trained pianist, songwriter, and arranger, from Memphis Tennessee (USA) based in Kingston upon Hull UK (also known as the UK City of Culture). In the tapestry of his music you will find fibers of early Rock N Roll, Folk, Pop, Rock, Blues, Boogie Woogie, Americana, Gospel, Country, Classical, Medieval, Jazz, Ragtime, Alternative, Orchestral, and R&B. 

At an early age, little Jerry was reading books on space, aeronautics, science, and the classics.  In his teen years, he became hooked on the piano as his instrument of choice and started learning to play the piano from a teacher (Wanda Caruthers) who started him out predominately being taught hymnals being in the Bible belt of the mid-south of the United States and this progressed into Classical (Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven) and Pop (Roger's and Hammerstein).  

But little by little, Hull was self-teaching his way into playing "Burn Down The Mission" and later expanding his personal musical repertoire to playing piano minuets, concertos, and all sorts of movements. 

And his musical wardrobe deserves applause in itself.  Slash is not the only one in modern Rock music that looks good in a hat!

Hull often dons a smoking brim of some sort, along with tails, shades, and colorful avant-garde apparel to match – true theater! 

His entire musical appearance, from his vocals; his music; and, his wardrobe all adds to his mystery and majesty.  He IS a one man show from head to toe. 

So you see how Hull was, and is, composing and performing using more elaborate music ornamentation; he is changing musical notations; and he’s developing new instrumental playing techniques. Thus, it is only fitting that he is placed right alongside Rock N Roll icons like Mozart, Little Richard, The Beatles, and Jerry Lee Lewis as well as living legends like Elton John and Billie Joel. 

Since April 2015 until today, Hull has released 30 singles, 11 videos, and 5 albums.  

This is a review of Hull’s newest release entitled “CELEBRATE IN THE SUNSHINE” that dropped Aug. 26th 2017.  

Fifteen tracks makes up this current album:

1) Celebrate in the Sunshine

2) The Last Time

3) Buffalo Man

4) The Playground

5) Internet Radio Star

6) Sirius’ Effigy Beyond Odyssey (movement in A minor 6th)

7) Tally Ho Missus Bigglesworth

8) The Witching Hour

9) Wished I Were Younger

10) You’re So Tragic

11) Missing You Again

12) No One Little Girl

13) Heart of Gold

14) Take You Back to Heaven (back to 1977)

15) Punky I Love You

While all 15 tracks show the creative drive of the artist and can find a place at any event during anytime of year, my focus will be on the 9 tracks that I feel elucidates the full range of Hull’s multi-talent. 

Let’s start with the title track “Celebrate in the Sunshine” a piano-driven Elton-John flavored track.  I just love this song – it is so happy.  It reminds me of the adage that “a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down,” meaning that even though Hull is speaking on real social issues that are hard to swallow, he laces the message with happy music (a galloping bass, organ, and loading piano chords) to make it brighter instead of gloomy – just the right amount of charisma.  His lyrics “all this media and politics / come party with me in the great bright light / celebrate in the sunshine / wipe away all your tears and forget all your fears / there’s gonna be a better day on the horizon” clearly illustrates this note.  The echoed effect placed on the word “celebrate” gives the song that classic 1970’s Soft Rock feel.  And Hull’s vocal range on this track is spectacular - going from baritone to 1st tenor without cracking is no easy feat, but Hull makes it appear so easy. 

“Buffalo Man” is the third track on this album and is the “troubled soul” song.  From the lyrics stating “leading my hurt across this heartland” to the chosen instruments, you can visually see this troubled man whose fuse is about to go dim walking his way back to familiar territory with his soul full of desperation looking for a place to survive, possibly seeking redemption, or to make peace with his past.   When listening to this song, you can actually picture the flat lands of the prairies of the USA.  I think it is great that Hull chose the buffalo as the prefix of the man in this cut, because man is often seen both stubborn and peaceful – not to mention the buffalo roamed the Dakotas of the USA.  In addition, the way this song ebbs and flows is magic.  The full gist and emotion of the song comes in the middle when the solo piano comes in at the 1:52 point, followed by Hull’s echoed vocal at point 1:54, accompanied by that solo guitar and that bass drum – that entire scene evokes loneliness.  Sparking great imagery with lyrics like “Black Hills / dusty roads / whisky stands / horizon / Dakotas / make peace with the Blackfoot man,” this Folk Rock song splendidly places the listener in the spot of the written song.  Full of well-placed sound FX that are balanced splendidly (you can even hear a horse whinny) Buffalo Man shows Hull’s talent as a storyteller. 

When you first hear the children vocal effects at the opening of the fourth track, get ready to grab the tissues – it’s a tear-jerker, but in a good way.  “The Playground” is going to be a fan favorite because it lyrically takes you back to your childhood.  As Hull sings, those days of long ago are “a special time to take for granted now and then / I often hear my little friends calling me back again,” the gentleness of those early days of youth coupled by the innocence of dreams are all captured in this three minute song.  No matter where you are in the world, or your age, you will feel the humanity of this cut.  So glad to find a song that calls you back to your childhood – those magical times where “dreams unfold” as Hull sings “where life and memories all began.” The tenor vocal laid on this track sparks a youth-like feel as well as the school bell.  Displaying a universal emotion – anyone, and everyone, can relate to “the playground” – this song is wonderful.  

And if you love up-tempo, in your face, Rock with great attitude, then you will love “Internet Radio Star.”  The introduction is reminiscent of 1980’s radio but the muse of the track is the internet radio star – the artist who creates on a whim and gains overnight success all online.  The song starts mellow and blows up with sonorous piano playing.  The old school R&B feel of this cut further puts this song over the top.  Then we have that magnificent piano interlude accompanied by an electric guitar that plays in the melody of Mozart.  This is a theatrical track that is filled with highs and lows that put you on the Jerry Hull rollercoaster of Rock.  I think you have an All ROCK cult classic here.  Jerry Hull fans will love this. 

The sixth song easily became my favorite piece.  “Sirius’ Effigy beyond Odyssey (movement in A minor 6th)” further shows how Hull trails away from the norms of modern music, in true Rock N Roll fashion.  This music concerto track is dynamic, and I am not just saying this, honestly, take a listen to the instrumental instrumentation placed in this song – so emotional (https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/celebrate-in-the-sunshine/id1276305723).  Displaying his classical training, and his independent style, Hull uses classic instruments to evoke emotion that strikes every note of your soul – the violins, piano, flute, timpani, bass drum, tumba, tubular bells, guitars, cymbals, and chimes.  How many artists today in Top 40 mainstream music can exude prowess without saying a word?  Few.  This is the music that should play when everyone is halfway between Hull’s shows – an intermission so to speak that you will not want to miss, one that ends like a tragic fairytale.  

“Tally Ho Missus Bigglesworth” is an affectionate Ragtime parody of a green-eyed, auburn-haired lady of society who ruled with her wit and damsel-demeanor but remained down to earth.  The way Hull twists those keys in this song is magnificent, and his rich vocals just adds to the aristocracy of the track.  The only other artist besides Jerry Hull, I feel, that was capable of twisting the keys to make Ragtime classically in sound was Scott Joplin and his song “Maple Leaf.”  Hull's track is a nice example of being progressive in music.  And in true creative formality, Hull was able to place a Ragtime track right in the middle of his album, and it works on so many levels.  Actually as Ragtime is a mix of Blues, Country, Jazz, Soul, and Rock N Roll, “Tally Ho Missus Bigglesworth” is a great balancer of the songs that precede it on the album and those that follow it, as those that precede this track were more of eclectic in their range (classical, R&B, and folk) and those following this track are pure Rock N Roll, Blues, Americana, and Gospel. 

I call the ninth song in the collection the scrapbook song.  From the introduction to its close, you can hear the heavily mid-Southern USA influence in “Wished I Were Younger.”  The Gospel chords and violins all set a pleasant backdrop where church, home, and youthful dreams all play together.  Hull sings “In my youth, I really never stopped to smell the roses, till there was you / I’m so glad all those years were just a path that lead me to you.”  You can hear the emotion in Hull’s vocals, the tremble and the treble.  The song closes with Hull repeating “I wish I was younger.” 

And when you hear the term “tickling the ivory,” “You’re So Tragic” personifies that term.  Very reminiscent of Jerry Lee Lewis, this Bluesy Rock and Roll ditty speaks on the all too familiar story of boy meets girl, or man meets woman; that encounter where the knees grow weak and the girl plays hard to get.  And then at the 2 minute 35 second mark, Hull actually soulfully picks at each key and dominantly makes the entire song come to life – he tickles the ivory.  Hull’s soulful scatting and growls all makes for a great party song.  The lyrics of this song is what love stories are made of and the adlibs in the background takes you to "Westside Story" with the Greasers and the Socs battling it out on the dance floor to see who goes home with the girl. 

And lastly, but not least, we come to “No One Little Girl” – the first single off of the album that has done very well, so much so, it was featured on radio stations worldwide.  Let me show you why.  “No One Little Girl” features Americana music at its best as it encompasses Rock N Roll with Rhythm and Blues – it has a soul for everyone.  Hull’s musical roots in this song digs way into the South.  The lyrics discuss the spellbound effect a woman has on a man.  In the song, Hull sings about a sexy woman who sets the heart ablaze in tight blue jeans.  When you listen to this song, you can imagine Hull playing his piano in a joint where you can see a riverboat out of the window and crawfish on the table.  The way Hull bangs out this song on the piano is reminisce of Little Richard.  You can hear the Memphis Tennessee influence in this track.  This is the leather and lace “let’s go to my place” song. 

What I love about independent music when compared to mainstream music is that the artists that make up the Indie realm are so clever, ingenious, and rebellious.  Indie artists learn from the late greats and add on; they do not mimic.  And even though they are uptight when it comes to meticulously creating their creations, they are so open to ideas that will set them apart from the norm. 

So when I say that I was so happy to hear the music of an artist who has combined the Baroque era with what’s NOW in music along with classic genres like Rock, Pop, Soul, Folk, etc., then you know I was really siked.

Jerry Hull is that KIND of rebel that starts a revolution like Prince did in the 1980s.  Hull makes you aware of the social stigmas of our day, but places such a light charismatic vibe to it, that you really do not recognize the MAJOR in the issue. 

Yes, rebels are those who go against the norms set in society.  The ones who if everyone in the music industry are playing their instrument sitting down, they will play their instrument standing up, or maybe spark their instrument into a blaze of fire.  If the majority of artists are singing within one genre of music, the rebel will blend multiple genres of music. And if the style in the world of entertainment is short hair or bald heads, well, the rebel will wear their hair long, in their faces, or possibly don wigs.  It is the rebels, the risk takers, who gain our attention simply because they do not follow the rules and it makes it okay for us to roll on the side of risk – to trail away from the norm.

In the world of Rock music, from its early beginnings until now, we have our rebels, Mozart, Hendrix, Prince, Slash, Little Richard, and Elton John, and now add one more to this list – Jerry Hull.

He has single handedly placed the Human Experience back in music!  

Hull delivered on what he set out to accomplish with Celebrate in the Sunshine, as the songs on this album does just what the title states, it allows you to celebrate, or make it sunny, wherever you trail.  The common thread that pieces this entire collection of songs together is what made the music in the 1960s so memorable, it’s what made Woodstock go down in history as one of the most hip, happening, events in music – it’s that real-life DRAMA that adds depth to the often dull everyday experience.  That reality, that fun, that funk and love or lost twisted with a spiral of flare or flamboyance that makes even the greyest of days sunny. 

His individuality and command on the piano surely sets him apart from his present competitors, but it also sets him above his competitors as he is crucial when executing his music. 

Jerry Hull easily displays what makes the Independent Music arena one of the best, if not THE best, joints to play music – you make YOUR music, you set YOUR stage, YOU are the BOSS, YOU make it work, YOU are accepted for being YOU, and from this creative independence, your music change lives.  Taking pride in his creations, he creates, arranges, and writes every note, lyric, and music from beginning to finish. 

Hull has what it takes to fill an opera house, make a club standing room only, and fill up an arena.  He has polished, shined, and adapted his talent into a piece of Modern Classical music that houses a wide range that reaches into classic Rock N Roll all the way up to Top 40.  What else would you expect from the Mozart of the Millennium?!

To hear samples and download the songs within this review or other Ah-mazing tracks from off of this album, go to https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/celebrate-in-the-sunshine/id1276305723.  To keep up with the artist, follow him on Twitter



Thanks bunches Jenny - Jerry is a great talent. So glad 2 know him.
Thanks Monica!
Wow...what a wonderful read! I've always loved the music of Jerry Hull and found this review fascinating and so well written, it made me feel like I know Jerry more than I do already! Off to listen to the album right now!
Lakisha so eloquently and precisely managed to put into words what others feel in their heart when they listen to Jerry Hull. We at It Matters Radio fell in love with Hulls' music long ago. All it took was one listen and knew Jerry Hull is the 'real deal' - pure talent. Thank you for such a detailed review. Hope many will check Jerry Hull out. His music never disappoints.

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