If James D’Angelo, producer and former member of Boston
-based hip-hop band The Goats
, was a little more careful, the genius that is Jimmy Luxury and the Tommy Rome Orchestra might not exist today. The idea for the band came about by accident, according to D'Angelo. "I went to sample some other shit, and I threw in a Dean Martin
CD by accident, and I was like, what the fuck is this?" It was like dipping his chocolate into Dean Martin's peanut butter; he knew he had something exciting on his hands.
After laying a drum beat over one of the tracks, he called up his friend James Kelleher, also known as Cobraman, a talented Philly-based rapper who had been bouncing from bartending job to bartending job in the Mission District. He pitched the concept: “swing-hop”, an irresistible mixture of infectious horn grooves, melodic scratching, sultry crooning, and inspired rapping. As Kelleher would later describe it - “taking the Billie Holiday, the Frank Sinatra, the Sammy Davis, Jr. and laying it over some fat ass beats.” He signed on right away. They knew what they had to do first: dress up and go out on the town.
The very first collaboration between Jimmy Luxury, nee James Kelleher, and Tommy Rome, nee James D’Angelo, was a photo shoot featuring the two of them dressed to the nines and loitering outside the hungry i in North Beach. "That's as close as we get to Las Vegas," says D'Angelo, laughing. "Not-so-bright lights, not-so-big city. But Jimmy was always the smallest guy in the biggest high school, so we were used to it."
The demo CD that followed slipped into heavy rotation in Mission bar jukeboxes. Soon, Sony, Island, Warner Brothers, Priority and Virgin Records were locked into a fierce bidding war over the Jimmy Luxury sound. After Sony ended up winning the contract, their song, “Cha Cha Cha”, was released on the Go soundtrack. It did very well at college stations around the country and the band was poised for critical success and worldwide fame.
Alas, it was not to be. The Sony deal fell apart messily, and Jimmy Luxury and Tommy Rome found themselves with a great album and no record deal. Although they tried selling the CD through their website for a while, it is no longer available due to legal issues. Thankfully though, things are looking up for “the Frank Sinatra version of Flava Flav.” Several Jimmy Luxury songs were featured in the movies “Ocean’s Eleven” and “Me Myself And Irene”. They have just returned from a sold out European tour. Apparently, Jimmy Luxury and Tommy Rome are working on a second album which they are planning to send to record executives. It should be finished by mid-2002.
If you want to check out the smooth stereophonic sounds of Jimmy Luxury and the Tommy Rome Orchestra, their first album, My True Love Is…Hip Hop can be found on eBay or at MindUnwind.com. Several MP3s are available at the band's website. The album features Taylor "Juggy" Cutcomb on piano, Todd Grady on horn, and Erik "Smooth Punch" Hammarberg and Phil "The Jeweler" on bass and drums. Also, most of the samples that sound like Billie Holiday are actually Brett Abramson, a living diva working in San Francisco.
My True Love Is…Hip Hop
- My Baby
- Sweet Apple Pie
- Love Me Cha Cha
- Tales of Loneliness
- I Love Life
- Rainy Days
- Sentimental Guy
- Cash In My Pocket
- Hi-Ball Swing
- I’ll Take Manhattan
- Cha Cha Cha
More information may be found at www.jimmyluxury.com.
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