Reviews

Kirk Whalum – Humanite’

Kirk Whalum Humanite’ Mack Avenue Music Group (release date: October 11, 2019) www.mackavenue.com By Bob Marovich If music is a universal language, the jazz idiom seems particularly equipped to express the essence of every culture. In doing so, it has the power to unify the world. I suspect saxophonist Kirk Whalum would agree. His latest release, Humanite’, is a love poem to world harmony. While not overtly religious, the album contains themes like freedom, love, hope, and optimism that resonate throughout various religions. But rather than lean on a higher power to solve every problem, Humanite’ suggests that it is ...

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Put the Whole Armour On: Female Black Gospel – The 1940s and 1950s

Various Artists Put the Whole Armour On: Female Black Gospel – The 1940s-1950s NarroWay (release date: October 18, 2019) www.gospelfriend.se By Bob Marovich (as originally featured in Living Blues) “If it wasn’t for the women, you wouldn’t have church.” This quote, which accompanies a vintage photograph of three African American women lifting their hands heavenward, is not only featured prominently in Put the Whole Armour On, a two-CD tribute to 1940s and 1950s female gospel artists, but it serves as an apt prelude to the collection. That is, notwithstanding the prominence of women in African American churches, most denominations did ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: October 14, 2019

“He Loves Me” Yael Hilton Light Records / eOne Music (release date: August 30, 2019) By Bob Marovich Light Records was very fortunate to sign Yael Hilton, one of the most talented female vocalists to emerge from today’s galaxy of independent gospel artists. Her newest single, “God Can,” released in September, is a singing tour de force, but it’s “He Loves Me” that has the greatest radio potential. To a brassy and infectious Motown swagger, Hilton dominates the vocal line like a seasoned soloist. She weaves blue notes and Le’Andria-like raves on this feel-good song that sounds at first blush ...

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Beverly Heath – Jesus Boulevard

Beverly Heath Jesus Boulevard BaCE Music (release date: July 8, 2018) www.beverlyheath.com By Bob Marovich The title track of singer-songwriter Beverly Heath’s CD, Jesus Boulevard, sounds like a road the Dixie Hummingbirds could take their “Christian’s Automobile” for a spin. There are blessings awaiting the believer on “Jesus Boulevard,” the Atlanta-based Heath sings. And along the way, one can make passage on “Righteous Way” and “Miracle Road.” All these roads lead to peace of mind. No pun intended, but Heath’s style is what you could call middle-of-the-road (MOR) gospel. It is neither sanctified nor atmospheric. MOR is, in fact, where ...

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“Revelation” – Keith Reed Jr.

“Revelation” Keith Reed Jr. (release date: August 28, 2019) www.newsoundmusicgroup.org By Bob Marovich Supported by his group, the New Sound of Worship, Keith Reed Jr. asks God in “Revelation” to reveal His life-giving light during an especially dark moment. But despite the stressful circumstances that inspired the song, including Reed finding himself out of work and almost homeless, “Revelation” is surprisingly unruffled and even-tempered. The smooth jazz arrangement, conventional melody, and easygoing vocals smooth over the drama. The Columbus, Ohio, native currently serves as minister of music for Destiny Church International under the pastorate of Apostle Theodore Caesar. “Revelation” was ...

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Harlem Gospel Travelers – He’s On Time

Harlem Gospel Travelers He’s On Time Colemine Records (release date: October 11, 2019) www.coleminerecords.com By Bob Marovich If He’s On Time included audible pops and scratches, one would think the Harlem Gospel Travelers’ debut album was a reissue of a forty-five-year-old vinyl LP discovered while crate digging. Even its Harvey Williams-inspired cover, created by artist Matt Chinworth, hearkens back to a different generation. Instead, He’s On Time is as current as right now. It’s the product of a group of young men, ages 18 to 21, who come from throughout the New York metropolitan area to Harlem to train under ...

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Ian Copeland Green – I Still Believe

Ian Copeland Green I Still Believe Cyrus Records (release date: August 7, 2019) By Bob Marovich Ian Copeland Green’s album I Still Believe may traverse different shades of gospel music, but the pop melodies, club-sized beats, and electronica of twenty-first century radio hits are the ties that bind the project together. The artist brings his experience as praise and worship leader at a church in South London, England, to bear on his craft. The radio-sized songs are almost uniformly P&W-focused in lyric and demonstrate Green’s capacity to work in a variety of styles—from the easygoing “A Hymn for Him” that ...

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The Jewell Gospel Trio: Many Little Angels in the Band

The Jewell Gospel Trio Many Little Angels in the Band NarroWay Records (release date: October 18, 2019) www.gospelfriend.se By Bob Marovich (as originally featured in Living Blues magazine) Any discourse on music of the Church of the Living God, Pillar and Ground of the Truth, Jewell Dominion typically turns to its sacred steel tradition with only incidental mention of the singing that takes place within denominational walls. Filling this void is Many Little Angels in the Band, NarroWay’s superb survey of the Jewell Gospel Trio, a female group from Nashville, Tennessee, raised in this African American Pentecostal sect. The Jewell ...

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“Psalms 34” – Chris Wesley & Undignified Praise, feat. Dana Hemphill

“Psalms 34” Chris Wesley & Undignified Praise, feat. Dana Hemphill Undignified Music (release date: April 5, 2019) www.undignifiedpraise.com By Bob Marovich Pastor Chris Wesley plays the role of exhorter as vocalist Dana Hemphill fronts Undignified Praise on this reading of “Psalms 34.” Written by Paul Shepherd and Tramaul Love, and arranged by Patrick Wright, Roy Cotton, and Wesley, this second single by Wesley and UDP is a praise song that improvises on the line, “I will praise the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Its simple structure and melody are suited for a worship ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: October 2, 2019

“Take Your Burdens” Chrystal Rucker From the forthcoming album Graced for This www.habakkukmusic.com By Bob Marovich Chrystal Rucker is one of the finest gospel singers today. Whether on her own or as a featured vocalist, she can turn a good gospel song into a great one. That’s what she does with “Take Your Burdens,” a conventional song of hope and encouragement written and produced by Asaph Ward. The single gets full-barrel Chrystal. She starts out by giving the song a melodic reading, then opens up her arsenal of growls, squalls, falsetto notes, leaving the listener thoroughly bedazzled by the end. ...

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