Frank McComb | Soulmate: Another Love Story
by Peggy Oliver
When one decides to zone in on their deepest wishes to play music on a super serious level, the dedication and discipline immediately start kicking in, no matter what disappointments lied ahead. After observing his aunt play the piano, Frank McComb was signed up for piano lessons, even though it lasted just three hours. Determined to lock into his professional dream, McComb would be transported by fellow musicians to club gigs in his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, in between the long hours of doing homework while in high school. Right out of high school (and car wheels to boot), McComb backed the R&B vocal trio The Rude Boys while one connection right after another seemed to play in his favor, leading to a contract with MoJazz in 1995 which never panned out, and finally Columbia Records (through a connection with Bradford Marsalis), the label behind McComb’s debut, Love Stories. Unfortunately, while the Columbia deal fell through, fortunately, McComb formed Boobeescoot Music that licensed his unreleased sessions on MoJazz with The Truth Part II and the rest of his recorded catalog.
Considering numerous Donny (Hathaway) comparisons, though very fair assessments at that, McComb weaves his unique soulful personality offering a creamy, expressive voice that sings classy love songs. His first project in six years, Soulmate: Another Love Story, mostly concentrates on the different dynamics of love dressed with a warm old-school jazzy soul, accompanied by a trio and musical guests. All of the seventeen tracks/interludes are must hears, but there are a few selections deserving special attention.
“Mustard Seed” is presented in three parts which reflects love’s spiritual aspect: “All you need is faith the size of a mustard seed” (from the book of Matthew in the Bible), in handling real life situations. “This Love of Ours” unloads the funk with a brief sweet synthesizer solo as the frosting while sending a message to the naysayers about serious relationship commitment. Najee’s whirlwind flute frames “Feelin’ Some Kinda Way,” capped by Avery Sunshine joyfully echoing the ecstasies of love. “Soulmate” is the search for the ultimate true soul partner flows of R&B and jazz sensibility climaxed by a thick layer of organ, synthesizer and electric piano. “She Needs True Love” points to the importance that a woman needs their share of affection. McComb’s and Maysa’s duet for “Labeled as Love” plays it sensually cool until the bouncy ending with “we got what others dream of,” ushered out by saxophonist, Marqueal Larson. The title track builds unto a triumphant declaration about an unwavering love relationship.
In never forsaking those instrumental skills on Soulmate, “There Are No Words” combines breezy wordless background voices with lively solos from McComb, Teus Noble on trumpet and Najee’s tenor sax. From the Stevie Wonder songbook, “Superstition” works out every funky nuance without stripping the integrity from the original version. Overall, Soulmate: Another Love Story simply reconfirms a successful state of independence in McComb’s artistry that he pursued the day he touched those piano keys. Five out of five stars.
The Urban Music Scene