The album elaborates on what Rountree started with his debut solo album Groovetree in 2005. He explains that the impetus to make Sumthin’ Good was "Definitely our drive to capitalize on the success of Groovetree, my debut project. While Groovetree was VERY well received by the industry, we had a steep learning curve being an independent label and missed some opportunities, but we did learn a lot from our shortcomings. We also signed a major distribution deal with Ryko/Warner mid-way through the Groovetree campaign."
Rountree rendered the services of several talented singers and musicians for the recording of Sumthin’ Good, including Detroit’s rising star Valencia whom he shares, "I met Valencia through my producer Billy Meadows who discovered the 19 year-old at a University of Michigan Talent show last summer. Everyone was blown away with the maturity of both her voice and writing. She's also a very beautiful young lady. We are currently working on songs for her debut project but felt it would be great to introduce her talents to the industry through my project. I also wanted an R&B flavored vocal tune on my album to appeal to my R&B audience and we felt that this complemented the album perfectly."
Also on the recording is the cool jazz sounds of guitarist Perry Hughes who played on the track "Chillin’ On" as Rountree reveals, "Dana Davis, my other producer actually wrote this track. I went to his office one day to listen to some concepts and heard this track he had written for a certain guitar player. Dana indicated that he "wasn't feelin’ it" but I immediately thought the song was funky from the first 8 bars. I said, ‘I have to have that on the new album.’ As for Perry Hughes, we felt that the solo section had his vibe written all over it and knew he could bring out the funk...and boy did he! Took him two takes. Both were great."
Meadows and Davis are not the only long-time friends of Lin’s whose input can be found on the recording. He also asked his buddy Bamm Davis to play on the track "Seldom Sunday" for the album. "I've played with Bamm for the past 10 years so we synergy energy. We actually recorded this song for his second album three years ago but it didn't make it. We had forgotten about the tune as we had discussed working together on Sumthin' Good. The day we went into the studio to brainstorm, he pulls this song up on the computer as a reference. I said, ‘What’s wrong with this tune? We can use it.’ So we re-recorded most of the parts changed the melody and made the arrangement more radio friendly. Bamm is an outstanding musician and producer and with my ear for melody and arrangements, I think we have scratched the surface on what we can do on future projects."
Though Rountree knew his way around a recording studio after making Groovetree, he was still challenged by the recording of Sumthin’ Good as he examines, "Our motivation and creativity were very strong. We had dozens of songs to choose from, and we had a better idea of what concepts worked. The challenge came in choosing the right material and staying true to our intentions for the second album. We set out to have a project with more punch and upbeat feel. Took a lot of listening and matching but we thought like a DJ at a club would. We picked songs that created a nice flow from beginning to end. We also solicited feedback from a lot more people with different ears."
He admits, "I do allow certain people to hear samples of the project. I especially like giving it to the most critical people. If you can please them or at least get no-comment from them, you are on the right track."
Though Rountree is open to considering outside input, what matters to him most is making melodies with a nice groove in them so he can move his trumpet notes to it topping the songs with a creamy caramel glaze. "We had our moments in the studio," he reflects, "where we would say, ‘Man this song is going to be great live,’ but the truth is when you have songs based on grooves, they’re all easy to play onstage. So it was never a big concern while recording."
His inspiration for a song can come to him at any time and any place. He asserts, "My tunes come to me at all times. That’s why it is imperative for me to have a voice recorder with me always."
Part of being a solo artist is being able to come up with melodic patterns, chord changes and song ideas, and then being able to tell the other musicians how to play their pieces to make the song a cohesive collective. Lin Rountree showed this quality early on, and though he may have not envisioned becoming a solo artist from the beginning, he says that it "Naturally happened. Once I started my band and realized I had the ability to connect with people on my terms that was it."
He explains that he was introduced to playing the trumpet because of his father who played an instrument, so why not him too. "My father played the coronet in school so that was my first introduction. I actually didn't like the trumpet," he intones, "It was very difficult to play, required a lot of practice, killed my lips, and everyone called me a sax player anyway after all of that," he shrugs. "Seriously, I love the sound of the trumpet the most."
But unlike riding a bicycle where once you learn how to do it, you never forget, playing an instrument requires constant practice. "You have to practice EVERYDAY to keep your lips strong," Rountree advocates. "So much of playing the trumpet depends on the strength of your lips. I play long tones, whisper tones, and lip slurs daily and that’s before I work on any songs or patterns. You hear trumpet players always talking about their chops, and how if they miss a few days, their chops will be weak. In fact, before I play a big show, I try to do as much playing as I can in a performance setting. I look for local bands that I know and go sit in with them for a set or two. As for my entire body I do kickboxing, ride my bike, and jog. I also just started using the Perfect Pushup. I thinks its really working," he smiles.
This is also why many musicians find it imperative to continually work so they can keep up their motivation to practice and develop their skills further. Lin Rountree never seemed to run out of opportunities to play the trumpet whether it was with his own band, backing up someone else’s or jamming with other musicians. He says, about his past musical experiences that "each and every one of them" has made him the musician and artist that he is today. "From my school bands which taught me the fundamentals to my Motown bands that taught me how to perform and be a band member. When I started my own band on the local Detroit circuit, I learned the business side of music. Learned how to manage band members, negotiate fees, set up sound equipment, promote myself, build a fan base, etc. I even learned how to play within myself at the numerous jam sessions with legends like Marcus Belgrave, James Carter, etc."
Besides learning from the great musicians of his day, he also checks out a variety of artists on the Internet. "I can't remember the last time I was physically in a record store. Anything I learn about a new artist is mostly online. I use itunes most of the time, Rhapsody and Amazon sometimes."
He professes, "I love some of the new soul artists. I’m currently listening to Ledisi, Frank McComb, and Conya Doss. I don't emulate them rather just enjoy listening."
Rountree does not determine the artists whom he listens to by where they place on music charts, but by their style of music. Although for himself, when it comes to scanning where his albums and singles are placed, he says, "I have to admit that I do. I check out the charts every Tuesday to see how my singles are doing. I also Google myself daily to see if there are any new write-ups. There is a sense of accomplishment seeing a song that you wrote and recorded is being played for millions of people."
His goals for his music are shared by a number of solo artists when he fires off that he wants his songs to go "Straight to the top of the charts. Beyond that I just want to get out on the circuit and share my music with as many people as I can around the world. I'll let the rest take care of itself."
Lin Rountree made a point of preparing Sumthin’ Good for audiences to enjoy. With the input of a number of good friends like Billy Meadows, Dana Davis, Bamm Davis, Perry Hughes, and Detroit’s own Valencia, Lin Rountree’s second installment of smooth jazz and R&B/soul cooking is music that will take you to a cozy destination filled with jeweled landscapes and love all around you. It’s temptation at it’s heavenly best.