Smoke and Mirrors
With an unusual amount of time on his hands during a year of lockdown, saxophonist/composer Steve Cole found himself pondering the difference between our authentic selves and the illusions we project to others. On his new album, Smoke and Mirrors, Cole offers up an intimately personal reflection of his own true self, free of trickery or sleight of hand.
“A lot of people have trouble mustering the courage to present their authentic selves,” Cole says. “Maybe they don’t think that people will like who they really are – and that’s a tragedy. I’m very much a proponent of living your values. What you actually discover behind the smoke and mirrors can be way hipper than you ever thought it could be, so you should just be that person.”
While there were certainly challenges to corralling this stellar roster of musicians remotely from home recordings or socially distanced studio settings, quarantine did prove an equalizer in another sense. “Everybody’s stuck at home,” Cole points out with a laugh. “There are a lot of musicians that I would love to work with, but it’s impossible because they’re always on the road. So there was a little silver lining in the fact that I could call old friends like Todd Sucherman and Brian Dunne, or amazing artists like Mark Egan, and they’re actually available.”
Created entirely in pandemic-necessitated isolation, Smoke and Mirrors brings together an all-star band with Cole’s longtime producer, co-writer and multi-instrumentalist David Mann. The far-flung ensemble includes guitarist Bernd Schoenhart (Cher, Marc Anthony); trumpet and flugelhorn player Trevor Neumann (The Eagles, Jeff Lorber); organist Ricky Peterson (David Sanborn, Prince); bassists Mel Brown (Stevie Wonder, The Temptations) and Mark Egan (Pat Metheny Group, Sting); drummers Brian Dunne (Hall and Oates, Ariana Grande) and Todd Sucherman (Styx, Brian Wilson).
Steve Cole - Gratitude
Steve Cole - Turn It Up
Steve Cole - Pulse
Steve Cole - Moonlight
Saxophonist Steve Cole is one of the most celebrated players in contemporary jazz. The Chicago native exploded onto the scene in 1998 with the album “Stay Awhile” that was produced by fellow Chicagoan Brian Culbertson. The disc scored multiple #1 hits and earned Cole the Oasis Smooth Jazz Award for best new artist shortly before his sophomore set, “Between Us,” was released in 2000. His catchy singles made him an instant radio favorite and he cranked them out with regularity on subsequent albums. In addition to his work as solo artist, Steve has performed/recorded, with Junior Wells, Buddy Guy, Boz Scaggs, Larry Carlton, Jeff Lorber, Jim Peterik, Freddie Cole, Cyrus Chestnut, and KMFDM, and has been a featured soloist with the City of Prague Orchestra, and The Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Steve is also a founding member of The Sax Pack, a stellar sax trio completed by Kim Waters and Jeff Kashiwa.
When he's not on the road, Dr. Cole teaches music industry entrepreneurship at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota where he is a Clinical Professor and Teaching Fellow.