Payne played piano and organ on the band’s self-titled set, which reintroduces material written (but never recorded) by the pioneering band prior to their 1976 breakup. Following a digital and CD release last fall, Magic Music has just issued a vinyl LP.
Payne says, “What pulls band members back into orbit is ultimately the intimacy of the music that brought them together in the first place, along with a desire to expand upon that music, while simultaneously reliving and celebrating the joys and struggles of an experience that is like no other.”
Magic Music was formed in 1970 in Boulder, Colorado, and played at the second and third Telluride Music Festivals. Upon reuniting for a benefit concert in 2015, singer-songwriter Tim Goodman officially joined the lineup after being an early fan. He also produced the album, which has earned attention from Colorado Public Radio, No Depression and Paste.
“I can count on one hand the most important events that shaped my career and approach to music, and knowing and playing with Bill Payne is one of them,” says Goodman, who previously worked with Payne on some recording sessions in L.A. before inviting him to record with Magic Music.
“He’s always well-prepared and then he just turns loose with what he feels emotionally from the particular song. First takes always have the goods from him, and then he will simplify from there,” Goodman says. “Working with Bill Payne you always get the best. I always, and I underscore always, learn something important from Bill, a true inspiration steeped in integrity…. Simply the best!”
In addition to Little Feat, Payne has recorded or toured with Bonnie Raitt, Bob Seger, Pink Floyd, Emmylou Harris, Phil Lesh & Friends, Leftover Salmon, and The Doobie Brothers, among many others. He recognizes that same ability to adapt in the story of Magic Music, whose lineup now features original members Will Luckey, Chris Daniels and George Cahill, as well as bassist Jimmy Haslip, percussionist Tommy Major and violinist Scarlet Rivera.
“Musical continuity attached to growth, and often separation, is the thread that binds a collection of individuals through the shifting landscapes of discovery, a reflection of a band’s life,” Payne adds. “Magic Music’s bedrock of integrity is solidly based on those experiences and backed with a musical effort that could only have been realized by them. Their voice is intact and has indeed grown. I’m pleased to have been invited into their world. Thanks to them all for that.”
A documentary about Magic Music titled Everything is Floating, created by longtime fan and Two and a Half Men producer Lee Aronsohn, is expected to be released in 2018.