News: Doctor's new jazz album exposes his ‘After Hours' passion

Date: 25 Jan 2012   /   Written By: Tony Simmons   /   News Herald

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PANAMA CITY BEACH — Dr. Hulon Crayton has long had an “after hours” second life as a smooth jazz saxophonist and leader of the On Call Band.

On Feb. 7, he will release his second solo CD, appropriately titled “After Hours.”

Crayton, a Panama City rheumatologist and founder of The Arthritis and Infusion Center, has played at outdoor jazz festivals and various venues on the Gulf Coast. He has served on the board of directors for the Bay Arts Alliance as well as Bay AIDS Services and Information Coalition.

Crayton and his On Call Band opened for Michael Bolton in January 2011 at the Marina Civic Center.

“I don’t have words to describe it,” he said at the time. “It’s on the other side of cool.”

Crayton’s debut album, “First Impressions,” spent 15 weeks on the Billboard Jazz Chart, peaking at No. 25. It featured the single “Sax on the Beach,” which reached No. 16 on the Smooth Jazz.com Top 50 Indie Chart, and was featured on the noted jazz website AllAboutJazz.com. The single also received national and international airplay at terrestrial and online radio.

“ ‘First Impressions’ (was) praised by many music critics in 2010,” Crayton noted on his website.

“After Hours” combines the doctor’s passion and confidence on 11 new tracks that include a vocal and instrumental version of the 1977 Heatwave classic “Always and Forever.” Eight originals penned by Jeff Kashiwa play to Crayton’s strengths as a soulful balladeer and a grooving R&B/funk player, with a few dashes of cool and swinging traditional jazz in the mix.

Highlights include the sensual late night romance “You’re Beautiful,” the whimsical mid-tempo light funk tune “Takin’ My Time,” the tropical chill of “Sticky Trickuation,” the sly, Pink Panther-esque “Speak Easy” (featuring shuffling drum, bass and finger snap rhythm) and the high octane horn-driven jam and first single from the new release, “Do You Feel Me.”

Kashiwa is world renowned for his years with The Rippingtons, The Sax Pack and numerous hit solo albums over the past 20 years. A composer, producer and fellow saxophonist, Kashiwa is also a mentor of Crayton’s. Kashiwa again brought in some of contemporary jazz’s most powerful and dynamic players to take Crayton’s musical game to the next level: Dave Hooper (drums), Allen Hinds (guitar), Melvin Davis (bass) and Bill Heller (keyboards) all played key roles on “First Impressions.”

Born in Milwaukee, Wis., Crayton lists his favorite artist as Groover Washington Jr. His childhood friend and next door neighbor was Gary Foote, bass player for Smokey Robinson and Blood, Sweat & Tears. His first instrument was a bass guitar, but he picked up a saxophone when his college roommate persuaded him to try it.

Crayton has been practicing rheumatology since 1986, after graduating from the University of Wisconsin. He is a diplomat of the American Board of Internal Medicine and of the American Board of Rheumatology. He has a master’s degree in Hospital Administration and has served in the U.S. Army and the Army Reserve, obtaining the rank of captain. He and his wife, Dinah, created the Crayton Foundation, which assists minorities with funding their college education.

With all of those accomplishments to his name, his musical dreams stand out in stark relief. At its heart, his is the story of a dream deferred, the unique connections between the spiritual and emotional healing power of music, and the physical healing that Crayton does by day.

Like “Dr. Goodfoot” from his first album, “Second Opinion” from the new CD is a playful ode to his longtime profession, sounded out in a tropical flavored groove.

PanamaCity.com writer Jan Waddy contributed to this report.

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