CDs

Jay Bratten – Hymns My Way

Jay Bratten Hymns My Way Jay Bratten 2014 www.cdbaby.com/cd/jaybratten By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog On Hymns My Way, bassist Jay Bratten, his fellow musicians, and a team of guest vocalists offer an hour of instrumental and vocal rearrangements of well-known hymns and gospels that represent the foundation of church music.  The album chugs along from one track to the next, alternating between smooth jazz, new age, easy listening, fusion, and contemporary gospel.  The blend works despite the variation in styles. “Leanin’,” known also as “What a Fellowship,” is a pick-me-upper with an Earth Wind & Fire meets ...

Read More »

Elain Thomas – Songs in the Key of Jazz

Elain Thomas Songs in the Key of Jazz (2013) www.reverbnation.com/elainthomas By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog Despite the well-worn argument about “devil’s music” vs. “God’s music,” gospel and jazz and blues—and now rock, soul, R&B and pop—are intertwined, fruits from the same musical tree.  Elain Thomas’ self-produced Songs in the Key of Jazz employs a smooth jazz patina, and a dab of small combo intimacy, to express inspirational messages through this popular medium. Thomas’s vocals are breezy, light, relaxed.  Sometimes she likes to leap around the stave, hitting notes with staccato force like a hammer to a xylophone, as ...

Read More »

Shirlene Jackson – Wow

Shirlene Jackson Wow CRNI (2011) Available at CD Baby By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog Wow is a self-produced five-track EP by Shirlene Jackson of New Edinburg, Arkansas.  A capable gospel singer who proved her merit in 2005 by winning the Gospel Talent Showcase in Hot Springs, Arkansas, Jackson’s calling card is lofting soprano notes over the musical fence when the spirit moves her.  More than any other track on the EP, her debut solo project, Jackson shows what she can do on “I Found Jesus.”  Written by Darrell McFadden of Disciples fame, “I Found Jesus” has the ...

Read More »

Ricky Dillard & New G – Amazing

Ricky Dillard & New G Amazing Light Records/eOne Entertainment  (release date: June 10, 2014) www.rickydillard.net By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog Ricky Dillard was once the young turk on the gospel block.     Beginning in the late 1980s, Dillard and the New Generation Chorale, a Chicago gospel choir steeped in the full-throated tradition of Dr. Mattie Moss Clark, Rev. James Cleveland, and Dr. Charles G. Hayes, offered up high-octane songs such as “More Abundantly” that other choirs were quick to emulate. Twenty-six years later, Dillard is a member of a circle of venerable choir directors that includes Pastor ...

Read More »

Christon Gray – School of Roses

Christon Gray School of Roses Collision Records (release date: March 25, 2014) www.collision-records.com By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog Christon Gray’s School of Roses may be the most unusual, and the most cerebral, inspirational project you have ever heard. It’s less gospel in its typical structure and more a personal testimony, an album of high hip hop drama clearly designed to be listened to start to finish, rather than as interchangeable singles or selections. The music and lyrics are moody and introspective. An aura of deep regret and an unending desire for redemption permeates every note. The struggle ...

Read More »

Pastor David Wright & the N.Y. Fellowship Mass Choir – Next Generation

Pastor David Wright & the N.Y. Fellowship Mass Choir Next Generation Godfather Records (released February 2014) godfatherrecordsinc@gmail.com By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog Recorded live at Brooklyn’s historic First Church of God in Christ, Pastor David Wright and the N.Y. Fellowship Mass Choir’s Next Generation does more to preserve the legacy of Bishop Timothy Wright than any of their music projects to date. Several songs on the album are in fact Timothy Wright compositions.  One of the most popular, “Jesus Jesus Jesus,” closes out the CD.  “Come Thou Almighty King,” “Presence of the Lord,” and “Who’s On the ...

Read More »

Minister Terrell Rogers & Men of Destiny – I’m Still Here

Minister Terrell Rogers & Men of Destiny I’m Still Here (released November, 2013) By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog Minister Terrell Rogers & Men of Destiny of Blytheville, Arkansas, are young men with old souls.  This is evident by the traditional bent of the quartet’s new self-produced CD, I’m Still Here. Rogers is the quintessential quartet lead.  He sings, shouts, growls, moans, ad libs, testifies, and preaches.  The Men of Destiny—Jeremy Myles, Torey Leonard, and Shannon Lyons—do the high harmonies made popular by the Violinaires in the 1950’s and that continue to dominate gospel quartet today (the bass guitar ...

Read More »

TBGB Pick of the Week: June 2, 2014

“Turning Away” Bryan Andrew Wilson EchoPark JDI (2014) www.echoparkjdi.com Maybe it’s me, but less can be more, especially in gospel music.  Gospel started with only piano for accompaniment.  Nine decades later, piano and voice (and organ, of course) are still the ideal combination for a Zion song. Proof is Bryan Andrew Wilson’s introspective piano-accompanied single, “Turning Away.”  It is a personal declaration to forsake the “things that had me bound” and “the hurt and the shame” and move toward a better life.  The deft production has Wilson trading leads with himself and harmonizing with himself.  By not drowning the singer ...

Read More »

Eloho – Arise

Eloho Arise (Released March 15, 2014) http://elohoefemuai.co.uk/ By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog From Nigeria and now living in Scotland, Eloho Jocelyn Efemuai, known simply as Eloho (it means “prosperity”), is a singer, worship pastor, and presently part of the worship team at The Junction Church in Aberdeen. Her debut solo album Arise blends CCM melodies with Afropop rhythms. The high point is its title track and single, a song that encapsulates the album’s thematic and musical expressions. “You Are (My God),” a well-executed duet with Nigerian singer-producer Akinwunmi Nathan Oluniyi Akiremi, aka FLO, is a close second ...

Read More »

Reel Brothers – The Reel Experience

Reel Brothers The Reel Experience Shekinah Praise Music Publishing (2011) http://www.reverbnation.com/reelbrothers By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog On some quartet projects today, the singers and musicians seem as if they are in a tug-of-war over who should be most prominently featured.  On The Reel Experience, the Reel Brothers gospel quartet and their musicians sound like best friends, inseparable and complementary.   Reading the liner notes, one discovers why: the singers and musicians are one and the same. The Reel Brothers come from West Memphis, Arkansas, and are Min. Antwan Stinnett, Min, Devin Brown, Jeromy Thomas, Nick Merritt, Ricky Reel, ...

Read More »