Reviews

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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Bri (Briana Babineaux) – Keys to My Heart

Bri (Briana Babineaux) Keys to My Heart Tyscot Records / Marquis Boone Enterprises (release date: March 25, 2016) www.tyscot.com By Bob Marovich You probably know Briana Babineaux (Bri), the pompadour-wearing fashionista, from her Instagram singing segments that racked up such significant interest among the hoi polloi that she garnered attention from Marquis Boone, the man who transformed Casey J from schoolteacher to Billboard charting artist. Bri’s twelve-track debut album with Boone and Tyscot, Keys to My Heart, answers the growing “Bri Nation’s” encore cry and offers further proof of the singer’s, and soon to be college graduate’s, talent. The album has a hybrid production sound ...

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Jonathan Nelson – Fearless

Jonathan Nelson Fearless Light Records/Entertainment One Music (release date: March 18, 2016) www.jonathannelson.us By Bob Marovich Who would have imagined, back in 2004 when he appeared on the national gospel music scene, that the irrepressible new-school gospel artist Tye Tribbett would someday lead an old school-style praise break? That’s exactly what he does at the conclusion of Fearless, the live recording from Stellar Award-winner Jonathan Nelson. The eight-plus minute “I Give You Glory,” with Tribbett as pastor/song leader, rides along on a praise break beat, tying Nelson’s fifth album in the splendid ribbon and bow it deserves. Recorded live at the Faith ...

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“He’ll Understand” – Joyce Barrett

“He’ll Understand” Joyce Barrett Sharper Brothers (2016) www.sharpradiogospelsuperfest.com Joyce Barrett of Houston, Texas, does some fine old-school singing on “He’ll Understand,” which on the CD single is credited to other writers, but presumably for the arrangement—the song is properly attributed to longtime National Baptist Convention music department leader Lucie Eddie Campbell, who wrote it in 1933. Backed by a pumping band and a gospel quartet (with Roy Reed as executive producer of the single, could the BGVs be labelmates the Zion Jubilees?), Barrett gives the song an uptempo, quartet style treatment. She repeats the “Oh, when I come to the end ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: March 14, 2016

“Order My Steps” The Gospel Sensations From the MCI Music Group album Everybody www.thegospelsensations.com A beautiful a cappella rendition of the GMWA Women of Worship’s choral classic from 1994, featuring that rarest of articles in gospel quartet singing today: a bass vocal, and an excellent one at that. Finger popping provides the rhythm while the harmony serves as a solid foundation for the lead singer. Reminiscent of early Boyz II Men. Organized by Robert C. Marion Jr. as a way to pay tribute to the artists of yesteryear and today, the Gospel Sensations of Greensboro, North Carolina, sing gospel songs ...

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“Clap Your Hands” – Pastor David Wright & NY Fellowship Mass Choir

“Clap Your Hands” Pastor David Wright & The New York Fellowship Mass Choir (Next Generation) Godfather Records (2016) www.godfathergospel.com Pastor David Wright, son of the late Rev. Timothy Wright, leads the New York Fellowship Mass Choir on its latest single, a reworking of the Alex Bradford classic, “I Don’t Care What the World May Do.” The ensemble focuses its attention on the song’s “I come to clap my hands, I come to stomp my feet,” lyrics as the church-wrecking tempo makes it impossible not to clap and stomp along. The choir’s raucous exuberance is met by lead singer Tiffany Woodside’s ...

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Lecrae – Church Clothes 3

Lecrae Church Clothes 3 Reach Records www.lecrae.com By Bob Marovich Leave it to Lecrae to put out a mixtape as a place holder—or an appetite whetter—until his new album is released, and it soars to the top of the Billboard chart. That demonstrates his crossover appeal in a hip hop market that knows no subgenre boundaries: if it’s good, it’s good. If it’s relevant, even better. Church Clothes 3 is good and relevant. It’s first three selections, in fact, are engaging kaleidoscopes of incisive rails against inequality and injustice in all of its forms. Lecrae points the finger at everyone ...

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“Serve” – The Divine Souls

“Serve” The Divine Souls MCI Music Group Radio servicing: Darrell Jay Jones (darrell@darrelljayjones.com) The message on “Serve” is uncomplicated and well-trodden—the Divine Souls are so grateful for God’s unchanging hands that they are 100 percent committed to serving Him. It’s the soulful vocalizing, especially by the lead singer, Michael Bembo, which sells the single.  The song’s long drawl of an arrangement, the perpetually warbling organ, and the quartet’s dropping to a whisper by the conclusion, evoke the traditional gospel soul style of artists such as the Gospel Four and the Pilgrim Jubilees. From El Paso, Texas, the Divine Souls were ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: March 7, 2016

“In the Hands of the Carpenter” Paula and Angie Lamon Records www.paulaandangiemusic.com With bluesier guitar licks, a funky rhythm, and a more soulful choir of BGVs than you typically hear in mainstream gospel, Paula and Angie’s “In the Hands of the Carpenter” calls on the Heavenly Carpenter to “tear down the walls in our heart” and fix us good: “Let Him change you, rearrange you, do what He wants to do.” “I’m a real fixer-upper,” the mother-daughter duo sings, and the construction analogies keep going from there. Refreshingly old-school in a Muscle Shoals sort of way. Paula Greene and Angie ...

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Kalind Haynes – “One Angel Short”

Kalind Haynes “One Angel Short” www.cdbaby.com/artist/KalindHaynes At six foot, eight inches tall, Kalind Haynes of south suburban Chicago stands out physically. He also stands out vocally. An alumnus of BET Sunday Best, where he made it to the top ten in 2009, Haynes was praised by Tina Campbell of Mary Mary for his clean and smooth delivery. On “One Angel Short,” Haynes delivers Donald Smith’s pop-inspirational love ballad in that clean and smooth delivery, a silky touch reminiscent of Luther Vandross and Peabo Bryson. The song’s premise? To quote Tavares: Heaven must be missing an angel: she is here on earth, ...

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