When Saul felt an evil spirit upon him, he called on the psalmist David to play skillfully on an instrument. A modern day psalmist by the name of Tim Reeves has crafted a new inspirational instrumental CD titled Something Special, with the intent of playing music that will bring rest to a hectic day.
I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Tim and watching him mature from a shy young musician to a skillful instrumentalist that can create a musical atmosphere of worship by playing his saxophone.
Tim’s career began with his playing saxophone at various churches throughout the city of Detroit. He was a part of the gospel instrumental group 4U, and he recorded with William Murphy and Michael Brooks before releasing his debut project.
I recently had the opportunity to talk to Tim about his music, his family, and his outlook on life.
Carl B:You’ve released your first CD Something Special on Life Music Group. How do you define the music on the CD and the concept behind it?
Tim: The music on the CD is smooth, laidback, a reflection of my personality.
The CD didn’t have a concept. We were in the studio and we recorded about 20 songs. From those sessions we came up with Something Special.
Carl B:Since the CD is all instrumental, how would you characterize the difference between the music you play as a gospel saxophonist and the music of secular saxophonists such as Kenny G or Gerald Albright?
Tim: The difference is the spirit behind my music. Since I’m from a church background, I try to play more inspirational music, allowing people to feel inspired. I also want people to feel me more than just feeling a nice groove and listening to the beat.
Carl B: When you say ‘inspirational’, if a non believer is listening to your music what type of inspiration would they receive?
Tim: People that have listened to the CD tell me that the music can release the stress of a hectic day. I believe that comes from the spirit in me which is reflected in the music I play.
Carl B:So you’re like David was to Saul.
Carl B: You were raised in a very strict upbringing in the holiness church. How did you make the transition from that strict upbringing to becoming a gospel saxophonist that’s open to playing in a variety of venues and recording a “chill out” gospel CD?
Tim: It was different. My style was never like a church saxophonist. When I first started playing, my style had more of a jazz influence. The gospel saxophonist that I listened to seemed to be in a box. From that aspect, I guess I was already out there.
Carl B:Do you define your music as gospel jazz?
Tim: People have asked me if I play jazz or if I play gospel, and I tell them it’s just music. I would define it as Instrumental Inspirational.
Carl B: You’re the first artist and first release for Life Music Group. How did that association happen?
Tim: It started with my producer James Striggles about four years ago. A year into the recording James passed. After his passing I continued working with James’ brother Anthony Striggles. Anthony introduced me to Ray, Al and Phil, who are the founders of Life Music Group.
Carl B: How hard was it for you to continue without your original producer Pastor James Striggles?
Tim: It was difficult after James passed. I stopped recording for about a year, then his brother Anthony called and encouraged me to get going again. James had a sound that was laid back and real smooth that matched my style of playing. It was hard finding another producer that could match what James did.
Carl B: On the release, you worked with one of the hottest producers in the city, “The Stuntman,” Brandon Holland. What was that like for you?
Tim: Oh, it was cool. Brandon and I go back to the 4U days. [4U was] an instrumental group featuring Brandon and Donny Russell on the keyboards, my brother Dwight on the drums, and myself on the saxophone. I remember when Brandon first started playing keyboards. He had a great ear. It was really great working with him.
Carl B: You’re a husband, father, musician, and a Pastor’s son. How do you balance all the roles while pursing your musical career?
Tim: Sometime it’s hard, especially when it gets busy. My wife Ebony is pretty good at allowing me to pursue my dreams. My family is a big inspiration behind my music. I named one of the songs on the CD after my daughter Destiny.
Carl B: You co-wrote most of the songs on the CD. What was your inspiration for the music?
Tim: The inspiration to write the music came from my thoughts about life issues. I think about the young people, people hurting, and black-on-black crime. One of the things that has bothered me recently is our people don’t realize we’re free. We’re still in bondage, even in church; we still have a box mentality. I just want people to feel freedom and release when they hear my music.
Carl B: When someone comes to a Tim Reeves performance, what can they expect?
Tim: I try to give concert-goers what I’m feeling. I try to get my vibe over to them. I like to keep the music simple so people can feel where I am. It also depends on the venues. If we’re in a church setting, I’ll create more of a worship experience. If we’re in a coffee house, it would be more laid back where couples can come and enjoy the time together while listening to the performance.
Carl B: Being a Christian, do you find it conflicting that your music can create such a laid back feel?
Tim: I don’t see a conflict with it. I feel that my music is fitting for any setting. Being raised in the church, I had to learn how to play in different venues. I can do a secular setting and play a Fred Hammond song, and people still get with it just as well as they can get with my original music.
Carl B: Now that you’ve released your first CD what’s next for Tim Reeves?
Tim: I want to work on another project, I’m thinking that it will be one-half Praise and Worship and one-half Inspirational Instrumental.
Carl B: Who are some of your influences?
Tim: Gerald Albright, my former pastor Bishop Carl Holland, and Bony James.
Carl B: You grew up in a strict religious home, how did you get away with listening to jazz artists?
Tim: My teacher told me that I needed to get some records to listen to help me learn how to improvise. There weren’t any gospel recordings that challenged me. The first CD that I bought was Grover Washington, and then I brought Gerald Albright. Their sound just captivated me and influenced my playing.
Carl B: What producer or musician would you like to work with?
Tim: I would like to do something with Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins, or Fred Hammond.
Carl B: If you had an opportunity to mentor someone what advice would you give them?
Tim: I would say go with what you feel. I believe I could be a lot farther if I had the same mind that I have now. I limited myself when I first started playing because of the way I was raised. There are a lot of opportunities that I passed because of tradition, not that there’s anything wrong with a church upbringing, however it can hold you in a box.
Carl B: How did you get out of that box?
Tim: It started when James passed, then my grandfather passed, then my wife’s aunt passed. We had about 5 deaths to happen in one year. I started thinking about the way we were raised and taught. We always talk about things in the Bible, but as far as living it and acting it out, we don’t. We always say what other people did in the Bible. I saw all these deaths in front of me. I had been told we had the power to heal and the power to lay hands. That stuff wasn’t happening before my eyes. So I started seeking God more for myself and studying more. I read how Jesus didn’t deal with church folks. As a matter of fact, he called church folks Vipers and Pharisees. Jesus hung with secular people for a purpose. Jesus was out the box. So I figured if he can be out the box, I can be out the box.
Carl B: What would you like someone to know about Tim Reeves?
Tim: I want people to see a young person that’s laidback, just like everybody else; a husband, a father, an average person that God has given a talent to. I believe anyone can go after their goals and not allow anyone to stop them from fulfilling their dreams.