Ivan Neville of New Orleans’ first family of funk and Cris Jacobs, the soulful Baltimore-bred bandleader and songwriter, have joined forces to collaborate on their first full length, self-titled, nine song album. Neville Jacobs will release their debut on September 28th via Harmonized Records.
This unlikely duo came together in the most unlikely of ways. One day during the great celebration and intermingling of music and culture known as New Orleans Jazz Fest, Ivan Neville and Cris Jacobs found themselves killing time between gigs, seated next to each other at a poker table.
As Jacobs tells it, “I was killing some time one day during my first ever Jazzfest and I sat down to play some poker in Harrah's casino. Coincidentally, there was an empty seat next to me and in walked Ivan and sat down. We recognized each other from having crossed paths with our bands, Dumpstaphunk and The Bridge, but had never really met. We played poker for a few hours and chatted a bunch and left with a casual ‘let's make some music together sometime’ agreement.”
About a year and a half later, when the stars finally aligned (with the help of mutual friend, Joe Michaels), Jacobs and Neville got together for a few songwriting sessions in Baltimore.
“In our initial writing sessions in Baltimore, we each had a few songs and snippets of songs in our back pocket and we took a bunch of time to just start from scratch with Ivan at a piano and me sitting next to him with a guitar. We pressed record and just kept it rolling while we just tossed around ideas until something stuck. Then we went back and picked the ones that we felt had promise to develop,” Jacobs explains.
“For a song like "River Behind Me", Ivan knew right away that he wanted to take this particular idea and write a song about his mother. So, we both collaborated on the lyrics until we finished it. For others, I went home and took some of the raw melodies without lyrics that that Ivan was singing while we were just messing around and put some lyrics to them. It was truly an organic and collaborative process. When we finally had some solid tunes together, we added a few that we already each had, and went down to Blade Studios in Shreveport, LA, to make the record.”
To round out their sound, the duo tapped Tony Hall to play bass (who Ivan has played with throughout his career) and Brady Blade for the drums. Hall and Blade played together as the rhythm section for Emmylou Harris, Dave Matthews, Jewel and several others over the years. Both musicians are extremely versatile, funky, and soulful - a perfect fit for the music of Neville Jacobs. During the sessions, Cris and Ivan invited Shreveport based singer and violinist, Theresa Andersson, to add some of her flavor to a few of the songs. And Ivan’s father, Aaron, lends his vocal to “Makeup Of A Fool.”
The undeniable synergy between Ivan and Cris created a fresh and timeless sound for their debut - equal parts soulful, funky, sweet, and dirty. This batch of well-crafted songs feature their two distinct voices and grooves complementing the other perfectly. This first chapter of Neville Jacobs is the beginning of what is sure to be a long lasting and fruitful collaboration between two truly unique talents.
“I’m really looking forward to this music being available to everyone,” Ivan says. “As we had such an amazing time putting this together. Cris and I, along with Brady Blade and Tony Hall put our hearts and souls into this project. And add to that the contributions of the extremely talented Theresa Anderson and guest appearance by my dad, Aaron Neville makes for one special piece of music.”