Gospel Jazz

Michele Thomas – The Assumption

Michele Thomas The Assumption Soulstream Music (release date: March 25, 2022) www.michelethomasmusic.com By Robert M. Marovich First of all, the title of The Assumption, jazz singer Michele Thomas’s third album, is a play on words. By referencing the Roman Catholic Church’s belief (assumption) that Mary, mother of Jesus, departed immediately to heaven upon death, she puts a sacred touch on the project’s point: trust. Second, Thomas combines her experience as a church singer, which included forming the gospel choir at North Park University, with her jazz career. The result is a sound as easy as Sunday morning but with messages ...

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Javon Jackson – The Gospel According to Nikki Giovanni

Javon Jackson The Gospel According to Nikki Giovanni Solid Jackson (release date: February 18, 2022) https://www.javonjackson.com https://nikki-giovanni.com By Robert M. Marovich The Gospel According to Nikki Giovanni is a Black History Month treat from a jazz combo led by Javon Jackson, saxophonist and former member of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, and the iconic poet and national treasure who lent her name to the album’s title. The album came about after Jackson, a faculty member at the Hartt School at the University of Hartford and director of its Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz, invited Giovanni to speak to his students. In ...

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Quentin Walston – The Good Book Suite

Quentin Walston The Good Book Suite (release date: November 20, 2021) www.quentinwalston.com By Robert M. Marovich Pianist-composer Quentin Walston’s The Good Book Suite is a four-part instrumental jazz piece with a spiritual foundation. A trio of piano, drums, and bass interprets Bible passages that brought Walston and his family through the financial and emotional ebbs and flows caused by the pandemic. The first two parts of the suite borrow their text from Isaiah 41:10. The incrementally dramatic tensions that ultimately envelope the opening section, “Fear Not,” resolve and transition peacefully into the optimistic “I’m With You.” Matthew 28:30 fuels “Till ...

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“Come Sunday” – Trineice Robinson

“Come Sunday” Trineice Robinson feat. Cyrus Chestnut From the 4RM Music Productions album All or Nothing (release date: August 6, 2021) www.drtrineice.com By Robert M. Marovich “Come Sunday,” from Duke Ellington’s 1942 Black, Brown and Beige suite, never fails to stop time for saint and sinner alike. Mahalia Jackson’s 1958 lyric version stands as the all-time finest rendition of what started out as an instrumental for saxophonist Johnny Hodges. Nevertheless, jazz vocalist Trineice Robinson does a marvelous job interpreting this ode to the restorative power of prayer. “Come Sunday” is itself a prayer, lifted from a mentally, physically, and emotionally ...

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“Pass Me Not” – Elder Randall Ogans Sr. & Dorian Ogans

“Pass Me Not”Elder Randall Ogans Sr. & Dorian OgansAlpha 7 Ministries (release date: September 5, 2021)https://elderrandalloganssr.hearnow.com By Robert M. Marovich Gospel jazz artist Elder Randall Ogans Sr. and his equally-talented son Dorian combine their efforts to tastefully update the beloved Fanny Crosby hymn “Pass Me Not.” Dorian’s acoustic piano and electric guitar riffs give the hymn a gentle swing that evokes a late-night cafe’ jam session, until Randall’s organ enters and brings it back to Sunday morning worship. It’s the kind of restful piece you play just before or after service, or at the end of a very busy Sunday.

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“With Thee I Wed” – Curtis Fondren feat. Desmond Pringle and Felicia Coleman-Evans

“With Thee I Wed (The Wedding Song)” Curtis Fondren feat. Desmond Pringle & Felicia Coleman-Evans Independent (release date: June 18, 2021) By Robert M. Marovich Longtime Chicago gospel musician Curtis Fondren offers something for the wedding trade in “With Thee I Wed.” This ’80s-esque slow jam evokes the tracks on Fred Hammond’s love album, complete with vow-like lyrics and honeyed melody and arrangement. The song spotlights two extraordinary talents, Desmond Pringle and Felicia Coleman-Evans, both of whom are soloists in their own right. They deliver the appropriately smooth-as-silk singing. Coleman-Evans in particular could sing the fine print on a credit ...

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Derrick “Doc” Pearson – A Family Man

Derrick “Doc” Pearson A Family Man I AM Music Company (release date: May 7, 2021) www.iammusiccompany.com By Robert M. Marovich Bassist, arranger, and songwriter Derrick “Doc” Pearson has graced the e-pages of JGM in the past with inspirational smooth jazz projects such as 2018’s I Still Do: Songs for a Biblical Marriage, and initially with his 2015 release, No Greater Love. Pearson’s latest offering, A Family Man, follows in the footsteps of I Still Do in its thematic anchoring, its mix of bass-driven smooth jazz from a team of top-flight musicians representing the DMV area, and equally smooth vocals. This ...

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“Come Back” – Elain Thomas

“Come Back” Elain Thomas From the EP Transformations Independent (release date: October 6, 2020) www.reverbnation.com/elainthomas By Robert M. Marovich Anchored by bold and insistent Brazilian percussion, “Come Back” is Elain Thomas’s finest single to date. It’s a rhythmic rumination on God’s constancy, a conversation between the self-styled jazz psalmist and her Savior. In her resonant contralto, Thomas delivers the Lord’s declaration, “Backslider, you belong to me,” not as a command but as a given. Many songs lasting two-and-a-half minutes are fine where they are, but “Come Back” could have gone on much longer without any loss of listener interest.

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Elder Randall Ogans Sr. – What a Friend

Elder Randall Ogans Sr. What a Friend Alpha 7 Ministries (release date: October 1, 2020) www.alpha7.org By Bob Marovich Elder Randall Ogans Sr.’s What a Friend contains classic hymns bathed in smooth instrumental arrangements. Well, almost. “We Need to Pray” is the one and only track with lyrics or, more specifically, a spoken word meditation by Elder Ogans. Over the melody of the Lords of Harmony’s 1965 single, “If God Gave Us Everything,” Ogans shares a real-life parable about a homeless shelter to remind listeners that there but for the grace of God go we. Otherwise, it’s instrumental jazz played ...

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David Billingsley – House of David, Volume 1

David Billingsley House of David – Volume 1 Intersound (release date: July 31, 2020) www.billingsleymusic.com By Bob Marovich Only two months after his album debut, Hymns from Grandma’s Living Room, jazz pianist David Billingsley has released his sophomore project, House of David, the first volume of self-penned instrumental jazz compositions. A Racine, Wisconsin, native now living in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Billingsley is founder and executive director of the Billingsley School of Music and Arts, an academy that offers K-12 students access to arts education. The selections on House of David – Volume 1 are contemplative and thoughtful, designed to conjure the ...

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