Gospel Jazz

“Blessed” – Big Mike feat. Ja’Net Miller

“Blessed” Big Mike feat. Ja’Net Miller (Wallace) From the Rhythm Section Entertainment CD Young Man Old Soul www.rhythmsectionent.com Sandwiched between guitarist Big Mike Hart’s tributes to James Brown on his otherwise smooth jazz CD, Young Man Old Soul, is “Blessed,” an inspirational piece led by Sacramento songstress Ja’Net Miller (Wallace). To a finger popping beat featuring prominent acoustic rhythm guitar, Miller encourages listeners that trouble doesn’t last always because we are blessed beyond measure. So keep the faith, she concludes in a breathy, languid tone, as if waking up with this essential truth still lingering from a dream.

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Derrick “Doc” Pearson – No Greater Love (CD/DVD)

Derrick “Doc” Pearson No Greater Love IAM Music (2015) By Bob Marovich No Greater Love, a CD/DVD retrospective of the IAM Music Company of Clinton, Maryland, is a celebration of the company’s ten years of existence and a greatest hits package for IAM Music’s co-founder, Derrick “Doc” Pearson, who participates in one way or another on all of the Scripture-based music selections. A versatile bass player, singer, songwriter, and producer, Pearson (“Doc” stands for Disciple of Christ), cut his musical teeth on 1970s and 1980s soft soul and funk while working with the likes of the O’Jays and Whispers. The songs ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 21, 2015

“Love Vs. the World” Xavier O’Connor Testimony Records (2015) www.cdbaby.com/cd/xavieroconnor2 With its finger-popping beat and modern big band sound, “Love Vs. the World” pits protagonist Xavier O’Connor against a variety of anthropomorphic emotions, including jealousy, fear, and hate, that invade his space like comic book villains. But alas, just as Jesus defeated Satan, our man whips the negative emotions with that crazy little thing called love. Xavier O’Connor hails from Delray Beach, Florida. A product of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, O’Connor took classical music lessons, and attended a fine arts high school and Oakwood College. He wrote, produced, recorded, ...

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Gerald “Da Gospel Truth” Jones Presents The Independent Spirit, Vol. 1

Various Artists Gerald “Da Gospel Truth” Jones Presents The Independent Spirit, Volume 1 (release date: September 4, 2015) www.ispiritmusic.com By Bob Marovich Industry insiders will tell you that some of the best gospel music is not being heard on mainstream gospel radio. It’s being produced by independent, or indie, artists. That should not surprise anyone. It is the case with most music genres. It has been that way for decades. Artists typically do their finest work during their “hungry” or “salad” days. And every artist was once an independent. James Cleveland. Kirk Franklin. Mahalia Jackson. The Caravans. The father of ...

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Akita Steen Smith – A Long Time Coming (EP)

Akita Steen Smith A Long Time Coming Akita Steen Smith (2014) http://altmgtmktc.com/akita-steen/ By Bob Marovich “It’s been a long time coming,” Akita Steen Smith sings on the title track of her five-cut EP. No doubt it has been a journey, but A Long Time Coming suggests that the Detroit singer is not yet at the finish line. This independently-produced project by indie vocalist Smith is contemporary gospel steeped in smooth jazz arrangements and musicianship. Less is more, as the saying goes, and it would have been good advice for this project. In more instances than fewer, too much is going on musically, especially ...

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Mechelle Johnson – “Urgent”

“Urgent” Mechelle Johnson Al-Go-Rhythm (2015) On “Urgent,” Memphis-based gospel singer Mechelle Johnson scats, swoons, whooos, and reads lines with rhythmic staccato accents, performing with more jazz than gospel in her voice. Her well-honed performance approach supports the song’s premise, which encourages listeners to go beyond the church walls and “into the highways and hedges” to deliver souls to God. The melody of this smooth jazz arrangement contains a bluesy twist, though the lyrics are inspirational, as Johnson charges listeners to accept discipleship and “shine for Him” through good works. Have a listen yourself: “Urgent”

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 20, 2015

“Back to Basics 2.0 – The Remix” Mel Holder feat. Gerald Alston Psalmist Music Group (2015) www.melholder.com There’s a first time for everything, and saxophonist Mel Holder’s single, “Back to Basics,” may be the first gospel song to include a slithery klezmer riff. A chugging beat doubles the tempo of the original “Back to Basics” as guest vocalist Gerald Alston of the Manhattans reflects back on the power and the glory of old school church. He implores listeners to “get back to the rudiments: prayer, praise, worship, and the Word.” Born in Queens, New York, of Panamanian descent, the Grammy- and ...

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Kirk Whalum on Jazz: A Way to “Experience the Savior Who is Indescribable”

By Bob Marovich From Mary Lou Williams to John Coltrane, jazz musicians over the years have, as Kirk Whalum puts it, “made a spiritual offering through their music.” With his celebrated series, The Gospel According to Jazz, Whalum makes his own spiritual offering, using jazz to describe the indescribable Savior. The DVD version of Whalum’s latest installment, The Gospel According to Jazz, Chapter IV, was released yesterday (May 19). JGM’s Bob Marovich spoke with the jazz legend about the new project and the link between jazz and spirituality. JGM: What encouraged you to do the first Gospel According to Jazz project? ...

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Kirk Whalum: The Gospel According to Jazz, Chapter IV (DVD)

Kirk Whalum The Gospel According to Jazz, Chapter IV – Film/DVD Running time: 148 minutes Rendezvous Music (release date: May 19, 2015) www.kirkwhalum.com By Bob Marovich Whether you did or did not purchase the CD version of Kirk Whalum’s The Gospel According to Jazz, Chapter IV when it was released this past March, you will enjoy the DVD version of the concert, set for release this Tuesday. The DVD captures the Chapter IV concert at the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, New York.  Live performance segments are interspersed with conversations with Whalum on a variety of subjects, from being a musician to the spirit ...

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Robert E. Person – Love Divine

Robert E. Person Love Divine REP Music (2015) www.roberteperson.com By Bob Marovich The first thing you notice when listening to Robert E. Person’s new album, Love Divine, is the bigness of the singer’s voice. It’s Broadway musical big, regardless of whether Person is summoning deep bass notes or launching into falsetto. His repertory reflects his vocal blend, a veritable consommé of jazz, pop, gospel, and classical influences. On Love Divine, his fourth album, Person celebrates the sacredness of love, mankind’s most essential but most misunderstood emotion. The album’s dozen selections come from the pens of talented songwriters—from Allyn Johnson’s ethereal ...

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