Pieces of a Dream
About Pieces of a Dream
Philadelphia's Pieces of a Dream is a leading contemporary jazz and R&B outfit known for their breezy, warm, accessible sound. The first act to be signed to saxophonist Grover Washington, Jr.'s production company, the group solidified their sound and cross-genre fan base with albums like 1982's We Are One, 1984's Imagine This, and 1986's Joyride, the latter of which hit number three on Billboard's Traditional Jazz Albums chart. In addition to touring with George Benson, Earth, Wind & Fire, Patrice Rushen, Chaka Khan, and others, Pieces of a Dream have remained chart regulars, continually landing in the Top 20 on the contemporary jazz charts with albums like 1993's In Flight, 2006's Pillow Talk, and 2017's Just Funkin' Around. In 2019, the band hit number one with On Another Note.
Formed in 1976 in Philadelphia, Pieces of a Dream came together while its members -- keyboardist James Lloyd, bassist Cedric Napoleon, and drummer Curtis Harmon -- were all still in high school. While jazz based, the group drew from an array of styles, weaving together funk, R&B, and electric fusion into their music, which often showcased singers. They quickly caught the attention of saxophone star Grover Washington, Jr., who signed them to his production company, and produced their first three albums, including their 1981 debut, Pieces of a Dream, on Elektra. Featuring vocals by Barbara Walker and buoyed by the single "Warm Weather," the album reached number 15 on the Billboard jazz chart and cracked the R&B Top 40. The group fared even better with their follow-up, 1982's We Are One, which included the single "Mt. Airy Groove" and hit number four on the jazz chart and number 22 on the R&B chart. The following year, they released their third and final Washington production, Imagine This, which spawned the R&B hit "Fi-Fi-Fo," and landed at number three on Billboard's Traditional Jazz chart.
Also throughout the '80s, the group appeared live with Washington, Jr. as well as with other R&B and jazz stars including George Benson, Earth Wind & Fire, Patrice Rushen, Chaka Khan, Jeff Lorber Fusion, and Angela Bofill. With 1986's Joyride, they moved to EMI/Manhattan Records, working with producers Lenny and Maurice White. Anchored by the title-track single and the song "Say La La," the album reached number three on the jazz chart and hit the R&B Top 20.
In the early '90s, Pieces of a Dream signed with Blue Note and regularly hit the jazz Top Ten with albums like 1993's In Flight (which introduced saxophonist Ron Kerber to the group), 1995's Goodbye Manhattan with singer Eva Cassidy, and 1999's Ahead to the Past with vocalist Maysa Leak.
In 2001, the group marked their 25th anniversary by moving to the Heads Up label for Acquainted with the Night. Landing at number 12 on the jazz chart, the album again featured vocals from Leak and included a guest spot by saxophonist Gerald Albright. More Top Ten jazz albums followed on Heads Up including 2002's Love's Silhouette, which added vocalist Tracy Hamlin, 2004's No Assembly Required, and 2006's Pillow Talk with singer Ramona Dunlap. They rounded out their time on Heads Up with 2009's Soul Intent, a number five Billboard Contemporary Jazz Album.
Moving to Shanachie Records, the group scored three more Top Five Billboard jazz albums with 2013's In the Moment, 2015's All In, and 2017's Just Funkin' Around. In 2019, Pieces of a Dream marked their 40th anniversary with On Another Note, featuring saxophonist Tony Watson, Jr., guitarist Chris Harris, percussionist Elec Simon, and keyboardists Bennie Sims and George Granville. The album hit number one on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz chart. ~ Matt Collar