Released in 2020, Five Up Top is Soul-Jazz Flautist Ragan Whiteside’s 5th studio project, showcasing a collection of 5 songs that embody the funky grooves and soulful melodies that have become Ragan’s signature sound. “When we started working on the album (pre-pandemic), we set the intention of recording feel-good music,”says Ragan about the
Released in 2020, Five Up Top is Soul-Jazz Flautist Ragan Whiteside’s 5th studio project, showcasing a collection of 5 songs that embody the funky grooves and soulful melodies that have become Ragan’s signature sound.
“When we started working on the album (pre-pandemic), we set the intention of recording feel-good music,”says Ragan about the project. “As work continued and the pandemic escalated, the feel-good music we were recording became a welcome distraction from the stress of the times. I hope the listener is able to feel that way as well.”
Produced by industry veterans Dennis Johnson and Bob Baldwin, and co-written by Ragan Whiteside, Five Up Top features a few mainstream hits like “Jam It,” (Billboard #2, 5 weeks at #1 on MediaBase, 2 weeks @#1 on Smooth Jazz Network) which brings to mind the lively, boozy, music-filled backyard BBQs of summers past. “JJ’s Strut,” (Billboard #3, MediaBase #1, Smooth Jazz Network #1) named after Ragan and Dennis’ adorable daughter, JJ, was one of Ragan’s favorite tunes to record. “Even after hearing the song 100 times while working on it, it still made me smile when I listened.”
Also included in this project is a remake of Australian rock band, Little River Band’s 1978 hit “Reminiscing,” (Billboard #8, Smooth Jazz Network #3) which had never been done on flute before. After hearing the song and seeing the video, songwriter and Little River Band founding member Graeham Goble says, “Great version... very tasteful. You and your band have some serious chops. Really love the outro licks.” Joining Ragan on this tune is Phil Hamilton, veteran guitarist who was a mainstay with Luther Vandross, among others.
Rounding out the collection are “12 Bean Soup,” a nod to the Latin Jazz scene Ragan grew up with in her native New York, and “Flying on 75,” a perennial fusion of Classic House and Contemporary Jazz. “I love exploring and expanding on musical expression, and Latin jazz has always spoken to me,” says Ragan.
For the past few years, Ragan has been on a chart-topping hit streak with 6 consecutive Billboard Top 10 Hits: “Early Arrival” (featuring Kim Waters), “Corey’s Bop,” “See You at the Get Down,” “Jam It,” “Reminiscing,” and “JJ’s Strut”. “Corey’s Bop” was #1 on Billboard, MediaBase, and Smooth Jazz Network, making Ragan the first flautist to hold the #1 spot on 3 major Smooth Jazz Charts simultaneously.
Her transition from her Classical roots of conservatory training began with a chance meeting with Bob Baldwin, which eventually led to her debut solo album, Class Axe. From there, Ragan honed her songwriting and production chops through 3 more solo albums: Evolve, Quantum
Drive, and Treblemaker. These albums featured high-octane guest artists such as Patrice Rushen, Marion Meadows, Kim Waters, Chembo Corniel, Frank McComb, and Tom Browne.
Five Up Top, the latest in Ragan’s musical journey as an independent artist, secures her place as a serious contender in the Contemporary Jazz world.