Gospel Fusion

Eloho – Unrestrained

Eloho Unrestrained (self released, 2016) www.elohoefemuai.co.uk By Bob Marovich Americans might be surprised to learn that there is a vibrant gospel music community in the UK. Given the way in which the music was introduced there, and when, the UK style—indeed the mode of gospel music throughout Europe and Scandinavia—has more in common with CCM and Andrae Crouch-style jazz-pop gospel than the churchy clap-and-stomp sounds of traditionalism. At the same time, it stands in refreshing contemporary contrast to the staid hymns of the Anglican Church. Case in point is Eloho Efemuai, better known simply as Eloho. The Nigerian-born worship leader ...

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The Abyssinian Mass – Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra With Wynton Marsalis Featuring Damien Sneed and Chorale Le Chateau The Abyssinian Mass Blue Engine Records (release date: March 18, 2016) www.blueenginerecords.org By Bob Marovich During the sermon section of The Abyssinian Mass, Rev. Dr. Calvin O. Butts III welcomes congregants with a statement that is the underlying theme of the piece: “Everybody has a place in the house of God.” Unity in diversity under one supreme deity is the binding agent of The Abyssinian Mass, written in partnership with Harlem’s historic Abyssinian Baptist Church by Pulitzer Prize-winning jazz musician, composer, and educator Wynton Marsalis. Blending ...

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Jae Jerome – Inner Man EP

Jae Jerome Inner Man EP (release date: November 2015) SouthBreeze Music www.jaejerome.com By Bob Marovich Inner Man, Jae Jerome’s self-described “gospel fusion” EP, embraces messages of inspiration and love lyrics—for God? for a person? Sometimes it’s ambiguous but it’s always positive —with the quiet storm sounds of Maxwell, Brian McKnight, and other R&B male crooners. Born Jerome Stovell, Jae Jerome is an artist from Bermuda whose style evokes the smooth soul, jazz, pop, reggae, and R&B music he soaked up as a teenager, despite his church’s strict warnings about listening to “worldly” music. Jerome worked with a number of contemporary gospel ...

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Gurrumul – The Gospel Album

Gurrumul The Gospel Album Skinnyfish Music (release date: July 15, 2015) www.skinnyfishmusic.com.au By Bob Marovich Gurrumul’s The Gospel Album is historic for the Journal of Gospel Music: the site’s first review of sacred music sung by an Australian indigenous artist. That artist is Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, a blind singer and musician whose artistic underpinning comes from the traditional music of the Gumatj clan and the hymns of the Methodist church on Elcho Island, off the coast of Arnhem Land, Northern Territory. The indigenous Gumatj made the music of Christian missionaries their own, and Gurrumul, a former member of the popular ...

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URIM7 – The Assignment

URIM 7 The Assignment JOSJOI Productions (2015) https://www.reverbnation.com/urim7band By Bob Marovich Not all Jamaican music is reggae, dancehall, rock steady, or any of the other popular sounds associated with the country. In fact, with rare exception, as Mike McGonigal pointed out in his notes to the reissue collection, Noah Found Grace, Jamaican gospel music was inspired by white southern gospel singing heard after hours on U.S. AM radio. Although a connection to the contemporary gospel music scene has added more soulfulness to the Jamaican sacred sound over the years, gospel from that country still has more in common with the softer ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: November 16, 2015

“Up and Praise Em” Judah Band Xist Music (2015) www.xistmusic.com It’s hard not to be drawn in by the irresistible polyrhythms and the shoulder-rolling zoot suit feel of this mid-tempo rouser by the Judah Band. The lyrics are a simple call to get on one’s feet and praise, but the music all but compels one to clap hands and start moving in the spirit. Hailing from Indiana, the Judah Band looks for all the world like a Christian version of P-Funk, and bends music genres with the same brashness as George Clinton and company.  The Judah Band was founded in ...

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Howard Ziwa – Dawn

Howard Ziwa Dawn – Volume 1 www.ziwamusic.com By Bob Marovich Howard Ziwa’s Dawn—I’m tempted to call it an EP because it has eight tracks and weighs in at under thirty minutes—has its high points and low points. Let’s start with the high points. The EP’s finest selections, “Alele” and “Let It Be,” are fueled by the brisk polyrhythms, vertical praise lyrics, and instrumental sensibilities of the gospel music from Ziwa’s native Africa (he was born in Kampala, Uganda). Those familiar with African gospel music know that it is often ignited by insistent drums and an ostinato riff on keyboard or ...

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Eagle Rock Gospel Singers – Heavenly Fire

Eagle Rock Gospel Singers Heavenly Fire Ba Da Bing (release date: August 7, 2015) www.ergospelsingers.com By Bob Marovich What originated as a group of friends jamming on old gospel songs distilled into the five-member Eagle Rock Gospel Singers. The Los Angeles group’s full-length debut, Heavenly Fire, declares their earthy conviction for true living through details of personal struggles and Bible tales that sound ripped from the pages of William Faulkner. The Eagle Rock Gospel Singers blend alt-country, rockabilly, and gospel into a mix somewhere between Wilco, Neko Case, and the Staple Singers. At the same time, the group’s expansive, extroverted harmonies, fronted by ...

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The Gospel Music of Jonathan McReynolds: “Different Sound, Same Heart”

By Bob Marovich “I always did love music,” Jonathan McReynolds told the Journal of Gospel Music, “but I don’t think I ever envisioned a music career to come out of it.” Nevertheless, McReynolds, a rising star on the gospel music circuit, is poised to release his sophomore album, Life Music: Stage Two (eOne, Tehillah Music Group), on September 18, 2015. Raised on Chicago’s South Side, McReynolds attended the New Original Church of God in Christ on East 78th Street, where Thomas Jackson Jr. is Pastor. Coming from a musical family, McReynolds began playing drums, keyboards, and organ around the age of five ...

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Funmilayo Ngozi – Unconstrained

Funmilayo Ngozi Unconstrained Unconstrained Music (2015) www.funmilayongozi.com By Bob Marovich A cursory look at Nigerian singer Funmilayo Ngozi’s name might suggest that her music is steeped in the African gospel tradition. In actuality, Ngozi lives in Augusta, Georgia, and studied and is a music educator in the U.S.  She served as a background vocalist on Trey McLaughlin & Sounds of Zamar’s Limitless album and the Beulah Grove Baptist Church’s Live at the Grove CD. Ngozi’s debut solo album, Unconstrained, is true to its title in more ways than one.  Although the title refers to unfettered worship and praise, the songs are ...

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