Gizmo and Red Balloon.

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The artist aptly named Gizmo (Kenneth Rodgers), a current student at Berklee College of Music and a well known bassist and music director in the R&B world, is beginning to create a big name for himself with the release of his debut album Red Balloon. The twenty year old bassist is known for his work with renowned artists like Meshell Ndegeocello, Bilal, Talib Kweli, Victor Wooten, Pharoahe Monch, Miguel-Atwood Ferguson, Quardron, Lalah Hathaway, Chris Brown, Zap Mama, George Russel, Sid Simmons, John Blake Jr., Marcus Strickland, Chris Turner, Jamire Williams, and many others. Gizmo’s debut 14 track album, Red Balloon, has heavy influences from gospel, jazz, R&B, neo-soul, latin, and more. And with an all star list of musicians who have worked on the project (like Derrick Hodge and George Russel) and some fantastic collaborating musicians (like Nick Hakim, Lauren Fuller, and William Wells), this record is something for music lovers of all kinds to look out for!

Growing up in the Philadelphia music scene, Gizmo learned from people like Derrick Hodge and Anthony Wellington to perfect his craft. Gizmo worked up a reputation for his preparedness, versatility, and ability to provide a strong foundation in many genres of music. He then came to Berklee College of Music and began to assume the role of musical director for many successful and large productions at the school, including tribute shows to Bilal and Lalah Hathaway.

Red Balloon captures the most comprehensive view of the artist as a producer, instrumentalist, singer, and songwriter. Each song has an air of neo-soul with an eclectic mix of influences. Tracks like “Sleepblah” and “Lift Me Up” represent the diversity of the record. “Sleepblah” is an ambient and experimental introduction to Red Baloon that goes through several transformations in it’s nine minutes and ten seconds, with influences of groove based jazz, spoken word, and rock/punk climaxes. The whirlwind ends with a piano outro, leading the listener back to the ethereal. It leads you seamlessly into the second track “Invalid (feat. Raydar Ellis)” which has a heavy groove and hip hop feel.

“Lift Me Up (feat. Nick Hakim)” is the essential sounding R&B/neo-soul track of the record. The tune features soulful singer/songwriter Nick Hakim on vocals, with Gizmo taking a backseat to hold down the groove with his signature bass lines. An abrupt change to a latin outro closes the catchy and melancholy tune, and then the music flows right into a ballad with William Gittens on vocals, followed by the title track of the album “Red Balloon,” featuring Gizmo singing as well as incorporating spoken word. Anyone interested in the blending of jazz, hip-hop, R&B, Neo-soul, and funk should definitely check out this album!

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Red Balloon is available for purchase at iTunes, and listen on Spotify.


          February 6, 2016