On this first day of 2019 I’d like to wish everyone a Happy New Year. I hope this year brings you more joy than pain, and more victories than defeats. And thank everyone who decided to take a few minutes of their time and drop by the Corner.
Initially, I thought I might review a new (late 2018) album, seeing there is probably not a release in 2019 yet (watch 20 new CDs drop just as this is published). But as I was listening to some of the music I had uploaded to my old school iPod Classic, I kept coming back to this beautiful 1995 Bheki Mseleku CD release, recorded on the Verve label, appropriately titled Timelessness, and I thought that this is the perfect title of an album to do for the first review of the year. Music is a reflection of time, and time is just as integral to music as the notes and the spaces between the notes are, so it makes sense to check out an older CD that sounds as though it could have been recorded last week, and that is why I chose this album.
I have just recently discovered Bheki (and please, no comments saying things like “I can’t believe you just heard of the guy”). There are so many excellent artists out there, and I try to find players that I am not familiar with and who make good music. I figure if I like them, then there are many other people out there who would like then too. I heard one cut off of this Timelessness CD on the radio, (shout out to SiriusXM Real Jazz, and WZUM Pittsburgh), and I had to buy the thing and check out the rest of it; and I am so glad I did.
Bheki was born in South Africa and he played Piano, Sax, Guitar, and he composed and arranged music just as well. He died in 2008, 14 years after he recorded this amazing album. He was only 53 years old upon his death, but he left a legacy of music behind him that still has a broad influence in Africa, Europe, the UK and the U.S. It is evident that his influence is as timeless as this beautiful album is. His playing style is complex and thoughtful, extremely artistic, powerful and fresh. He sounds like he recorded this album yesterday, and not twentyfive years ago. And, when you check out the lineup on this CD, you see that he was well respected by the giants of the America jazz scene too. Talent respects talent. The album lineup reads as follows: Michael Bowie/bass; Marvin “Smitty” Smith drums; the great Abbey Lincoln/vocals on track 5; Kent Jordan/flute on track 4 & 8; Pharoah Sanders/tenor sax on track 6; Joe Henderson/tenor sax track 1; Rodney Kendrick/piano track 7; and none other than Elvin Jones /drums on track 9. With this level of talent, you dare not go wrong (because you can’t), and Bheki hit the mark dead center on this CD.
The first song on the CD is the title track Timelessness. This song features the quartet of Bheki, Henderson, Bowie and Smitty. It’s a straight-ahead cut that jams. Bheki’s piano play is forceful and true, and he leads this quartet in yeoman’s fashion. He exhibits a style that I can describe as dependable and timely and on this cut he puts in a full day’s work. His leadership is clear and true as he not only leads the bandmates here, but he composed and arranged every song on the LP including this one.
On this cut, the outstanding thing you’ll notice is the drum play of Smitty. Marvin “Smitty” Smith is an amazing inspired drummer. He keeps the beat impeccably, but his play is also laced with sophistication and awe-inspiring syncopation. He can easily be placed in the upper echelon of drummers not only in the field but within the broad history of jazz music itself, and, I feel that statement is not one bit of hyperbole. In fact, Bheki dedicates this song to Smitty; that’s the respect he had for this man’s ability, and that respect is well deserved. Smitty’s play undergirds the entire quartet and allows Bheki and Joe Henderson the freedom fly all over the place. The two feed off the drummer into heights of pure improvisational magic. They can do this because their flight is well grounded within the confines of a stellar rhythm section of this supremely tight band. As you listen to Bheki and Joe pontificate upon the theme you can feel them being egged on the smoking hot drum track that Smitty lays down. No drum machine yet designed can do what Smitty does here. This cut is a nine-minute tenor sax/piano symposium played by champions on an album of champions. And this first cut whets your appetite for what lies ahead.
The second cut on the fabulous CD is titled Yukani (Wake Up). On this cut Bheki plays not only the piano, but the tenor and soprano saxes as well. During his day, he often performed playing the piano and sax at the same time. I am not sure if that was the case on this cut, but what I am sure of is that this song is beautiful and inspiring. Here, Bheki reminds me of another of my favorite piano players, McCoy Tyner, and in fact, there is a tribute LP to both of these great two greats performed by an English jazz band named Hexagonal (you can bet I’m doing a review in the near future). Here Bheki uses the expansive chording technique that give Tyner’s music such an epic piano sound, and that’s exactly the effect that Bheki has here. It’s that style of play that seems to take the listeners beyond the here and now and transports them to parts unknown. This song is a journey, and the trip is exotic and awesome. We are transported to Apartheid South Africa, where we not only share in the struggle of the black people of the land, but we also share in the beauty of the natural surroundings. Micheal Bowie’s bass is magical and alive. It seems to transform itself into an instrument from an unknown culture and time; it transports us via feel and emotion in breathless anticipation of what comes next. This album is indeed magical, and one wonders why Bheki didn’t get his due here in the U.S. before he died.
I could write about every cut on this LP, but I don’t want to fatigue the reader, so I’ll jump to cut four C-Ton (Planet Earth). C-Ton begins in a waltz like fashion as the 6/8-time signature whirls around romantically. Kent Jordan’s flute solo is superb on this track. His playing is fresh, articulate and imaginative. He lends to the song a certain air of magic that sweeps the listener away. The effect is on the brink of being other worldly in sound and texture. The quartet of Jordan, Mseleku, Bowie, and Smitty create an interplay that is on par with any quartet in jazz history (I dare say), and the music is a masterpiece. Bheki’s piano solo gives us an insight into his improvisational mind as he scats and sings the notes that his right hand is commanding out of the keys. The sound is almost larger than the quartet, but at the same time it maintains that intimacy that quartets bring to the audience. All the while, Smitty and Bowie not only ground the two front men but lay down that groundwork with virtuosity. They are not just a rhythm section merely holding down the tempo, they add depth and musicality to their essential part in this 10 minute, 29 second epic work of art. It still amazes me that Bheki did not receive greater recognition in America before he died. He obviously was known and appreciated by his jazz musician contemporaries, but his name was not widely known to the general public State side. As so frequently happens, genius is usually not widely recognized until after the artist has passed.
Cut five is the only English speaking vocal number on the LP; its titled Through The Years. This ballad features the inimitable Abby Lincoln doing the vocals. In fact, Abby wrote the lyrics for this song. She is accompanied by a quartet of tenor sax, piano, bass, and drums. Smitty, and Bowie play drum and bass respectively, but the piano and sax are both played by none other than Bheki himself. Here we get a taste of what this multi-talented music master can do on the sax, and as you can hear, he knew a thing or several about the instrument. His playing is warm and full, and he’s not lacking in style or timbre. The voice of his tenor is distinct and full, and was not a novelty at all, but was an essential component of the fullness of the tune. And, once again, if you listen carefully, during the piano solo you can hear Bheki singing the notes that his right hand is playing. I don’t know if he even realized that he was doing it, but it seems as though he was completely wrapped up in his music. Unfortunately, I am not certain whether the track is overdubbed or Bheki is actually playing the sax and piano simultaneously when they are heard together, but whatever the case may be, the two instruments complement one another is expert fashion, and the overall effect makes this song just as haunting as Abby’s lyrics describe. This song rounds out a beautiful album and showcases Abby and Bheki’s command of their respective crafts.
The sixth song on this wonderful album is titled Yanini. This is a happy song, even joyous, and although its in a laid-back jazz style, the joy cannot be hidden or ignored. The song features the great Pharoah Sanders on tenor saxophone, and on this cut near the end, Bheki actually sings out load into the microphone! I don’t actually know what he says, but I do know that he is singing, and he sounds good too. This song has a calypso feel to it; it sounds like the islands; it dips and swings as it plays along in its groove-ful playful style. Pharoah is at his best; his playing marvelously clear and sweet in tone and texture. The song dances along, and it makes the listener want to dance along with it. The song is 11 minuets and 8 seconds long, and it seems to sweep by like a graceful parade. Its never dull or heavy, and the tempo and feel keep your feet tapping. Near the end as the tenor sax and the drums take the listener to the end, Pharoah is at his best. He plays grace notes to Bheki’s singing and the echo effect on his sax lends an organic sound of the island to the graceful dance. Genius in concept and performance, and some of the best music from the era.
Well, as you can probably tell, I could go on talking about this fantastic offering that Mseleku left us, but I’m nearing the limit of what I’m comfortable writing in one article. I could do more about the album in another article, but instead I’ll encourage you to do yourself a favor and listen to the whole thing on your own. I’m sure you, just like me, will be searching for more of Bheki Mseleku’s albums.
I have come to the end of another fun (for me, at least), article, and what’s more, I’ve come to the end of a year of writing (my first full year; we started mid 2017), and the beginning of a new year. I’m sure I’ve enjoyed this way more than you readers might, but I hope you got something out of it too, and I’d like to thank all of you for the time you spent here out of your busy day.
The entire staff of N-Motion Entertainment would like to thank everyone for their patience during the transition period from our old format into this new one. We apologize for the obvious growing pains you endured with us. We are doing and hope to continue doing a lot of exciting things with our platform. We continue to strive to bring you premium entertainment on stage, and on this magazine website. Please feel free to write your feedback in the places provided. Now that we have our new home, it will be much easier for us to reply to your quires and comments. And if you have anyone in mind that you would like us to bring to our fair city (or that you want me to hear and write about), feel free to let us know (no promise, but we will consider all suggestions).
I’d like to personally thank any and all readers of this article. I had a lot of fun doing it, and as strive to continue this endeavor, just know that I write with the reader in mind, and I write about the music I love; Jazz, Smooth Jazz, R & B, and even a little Hip Hop too, so….I’m open to suggestions (of the musical nature).
Let me also say I do not own the rights to any of the music, videos or photos used in this article, but I lean solely upon the Fair Use statute in the law for permission.
Thanks again for stopping by. Please tell your family and friends about the article, and remember,
Next time, “Catch you on The Corner”.
B. B. Suber
Theon Cross Fyah Nawlins Jazz Funk from Across the Pond June 4, 2019
There are those who say that Jazz is stale, unimaginative and old. I’ve heard it all, and I’m sure you have too. Most people who think this way simply haven’t listened enough, or their minds are just so rigid that they have no room for imagining anything other than what they’re accustomed to. Well, when you listen to this young man be prepared for something different; something so out of the ordinary that you have to take a second and actually think about what you’re hearing before merely pushing it aside because you really don’t want put forth the effort to actually experience the music. Theon Cross is the definition of an iconoclast. He tears down barriers and wrecks stereotypes. In his music you can hear someone who is unafraid to be himself and patient enough to allow time for the listening public to catch up with him, because he’s not waiting around for anyone, and his train is moving fast.
Theon is a Tuba player; that’s right, Tuba. And to the uninitiated, this instrument in and of itself may not equate to their idea of what they call jazz, but to those of us who remember Miles, Thelonius, Dizz, and Parker, we know that iconoclasm is usually part and parcel with genius, and its musical genius that usually defines and shapes the beloved genre. Jazz is all about being unafraid to be different; unafraid to be uniquely you. Louis Armstrong was different; Ella was different; Nina was different, and we had to catch up with them. Dare I put this young man in their category? Only time will tell, but one thing I can attest to is that this LP is not your usual fare, and the superbly talented Mr. Cross is not your usual artist. In every generation there emerges a group of artists that blaze a new contrail in the musical skyline. They seem to rocket to a distant plane that at first attracts only a few, but following generations look back and point to them as the impetus for the new classic. Theon is that type of player.
His playing is reminiscent of the New Orleans sound in the way that the region’s jazz uses the bass horns; the trombone and the tuba, and when Theon plays the tuba, it suddenly becomes a lead instrument. This man rocks. Tubas aren’t supposed to carry the tune, rock a melody, and lead a song, but Theon pulls it off naturally, with home cooked groove peppered with style and funk.
Take the first song on this LP for instance; it’s entitled, quite appropriately, Activate, and with it, Theon takes off. He enters the soundstage like a 500-pound gorilla, but metaphorically he’s more of a Delta II Rocketship! He blasts off! He hits the beat hard and he doesn’t stop; Theon drives this tune from beginning to end with a relentlessly propelled funky groove. But with all the excitement this song exudes, there is an element of simplicity the accompanies the beat. The reason for this is that most of the song is played by a trio; Theon on tuba; Moses Boyd on drums and Ms. Nubya Garcia on tenor saxophone. There are a few measures mid-way through the song where Nubya’s sax is overdubbed, but the trio sound carries the load for the bulk of the tune, and the effect is amazing. The three players fill the room with driving music that not only makes you want to dance, but it makes you want to attentively listen as well. And the listener is awed by the artistry, virtuosity and stamina of the players. The song is a five-minute marathon. There is so much energy packed into such a small space the it seems as though the CD cannot contain it all. And you must pay attention to Theon’s solo near the end of the song. He amazes the listener with his sense of unleashed funk, groove and drive. This is not your run of the mill jazz diddy. It’s something far fresher and unashamedly different. And do not let me fail to mention the ridiculously fabulous drum play of Moses Boyd. He parts the Red sea of sameness and brings the listener into a new realm of raging jazz soul funk that will leave one breathless. Once the song ends, you’re almost relieved because you can finally catch your breath. This is one hell of an introduction that will not soon be forgotten, and you’ll beg to hear more.
Song three is entitled Radiation. The players are identical to the first track, and although the groove is a bit slower than track one, the funky drive still floats atop the beat, only in a pleasant and a “bit” more relaxed fashion. The song opens with the funky prodding groove of tuba and drums, yet the jam still radiates pure unadulterated funk. There are no words being sung or being rapped; it’s funk in musical purity. The beat, the bass, and the horn; a tight trio that creates a head nodding beat that easy to follow but intricate enough to whet the intellectual appetite. Nubya’s sax sings the melody and sets the dance groove ablaze. She hits a smooth counterpoint to Theons pedestrian beat and leads the song into traffic jam of cool funky sound. It’s a dance tune disguised as a jazz funk exercise and Nubya is in charge.
Midway through the song the overdub device is used by the sax again, but the effect of Nubya’s tenor voice is an uncluttered raw canvas of beat and funk. And the funk is large, it cannot be missed, and there is no layer of sound to dilute it; it’s as uncluttered as it gets, but if full and mature at the same time. Funk, groove and improvisation are what you’re being fed, and it delicious. At times Theon sounds like the Godzilla of bass. He roars like he weighs a million pounds, but at the same time he is not overbearing; he just is, and he’s at his funky best. He’s a herd of elephants on the rampage, and in their wake is a crowd of sweaty dancing people. This song makes you want to see this man in concert, and I plan on doing exactly that.
Candace of Meroe is the 5th song on this LP, and it’s the first track to feature Wayne Francis on tenor sax (although Nubya does her excellent work on this video clip), and Artie Zaitz on electric guitar (Arties isn’t on the live clip either). This song is introduced and underpinned by the calypso beat of Moses’ drum, and it’s later accentuated by Artie’s exciting rhythm guitar play. But the heart of the number is opened by Theon’s jaw dropping solo. It’s hard to believe that this solo could be pulled off on a tuba, but hearing is believing. Theon is incredible and he attacks his solo with seasoned ferocity, but don’t be fooled, the song is really an interplay of tuba and tenor sax, with the tuba laying down a ridiculous groove that carries the song from beginning to end.
Theon’s tuba intersperses measures of improvised solos which further push the delicious dance groove. And, all this is accompanied by the Caribbean/ New Orleans style drumbeat, and the frenzied relentless rhythm guitar. Wayne finally takes his turn on the solo stage, and he delivers in a fashion that makes him the match of Theon (and he had better), which is no easy feat. Theon’s final solos follows, and the man delivers big time. He is the real deal, and that’s not to be argued.
There is not anything ordinary about this one. It’s unique in so many ways. It’s reminiscent of Miles’ excursions into the avant guard, but its not different for difference sake; the music sounds and feels authentic. And when the music is finally over, it’s almost a relief because the energy in so frenetic that it seems that it cannot be maintained. This is an excellent song; another quality offering on a quality CD.
There is one standout ballad on this LP, and that’s the seventh song on the disc, and its entitled CIYA , which also happens to be the lengthiest number of this tasty album. This song features Nathaniel Cross on trombone, Artie on guitar, and Wayne on tenor saxophone. This one is smooth and groovy.It’s a cool ride in and open Cadillac convertible on a warm summer’s night. It smooth and easy, and Theon’s tuba is plays nearly like a double bass warm and smooth, understated, full and large. Moses’ drum play is smooth and understated as well and carries the tune softly along.
This song is a quiet meandering stream that soothes the soul and gives the listener a break for the relentlessness of the rest of the album. The music is quiet and tasty, and after all the high tempo music on this CD, it’s a nice change of pace that exhibits Theon’s ability to display the multifaceted colors of his mind. Nathaniel Cross’ buttery trombone solo melts in your ear and calms your spirit as well. His solo is followed by Theon’s own slow solo. He demonstrates that he can not only play the red hot funky driven stuff, but he can also slow it down, and exhibit the bluer side of his psyche. He’s a complex and complete musician, and I look forward to more of his music in the near future, and I look forward to hearing this young man in concert (and I hope he’ll be stateside very soon).
Well, I’ll leave the rest of the LP up to you to check out, and you won’t be disappointed. I didn’t touch on all of it, but its equally ambitious and just as good.
I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to read this article. We apologize for the delay in updating our mag; it seems as though when things are going along smoothly, something comes along to throw a wrench into the machinery. We have it all fixed now, and we hope to keep it that way.
You may have noticed that I’ve spent the first five months of the year only writing about one CD per month. I plan on writing two article per month for the remaining balance of the year simply because other projects that I have been working on have wound down (more on those in upcoming articles). I have some exciting new artists to talk about, as well as some established luminaries that continue to shine as bright as ever. Keep a look out in the near future and come back and join this ride along with us.
The summer season is here, and as usual there are a lot of live national acts coming to town, and of course, N-Motion Entertainment is right there in the thick of things doing what we do best. We have some top-notch recording artists scheduled to appear in the soon at fantastic local venues around the city.
We have a tentative date for saxophonists Jeff Kashiwa and Steve Cole to appear at the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild on July 13.
Also, we have the return of our AMAZING White Party on July 27th at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts in beautiful Shadyside! We will have several great artists there. Please stay tuned for details as they solidify. This will be a wonderful affair, and for those of you who remember the last one, you know I am not exaggerating, and I guarantee you will not be disappointed with this one.
And, on September the 6th we will be bringing national recording star Najee to the Manchester Craftmen’s Guild.
For details on these upcoming shows, please visit our Facebook page, or this magazine. Of course, “Brian’s Corner” will always keep you informed on what’s happen in the area.
And remember to check out NMojazz for all you jazz music searches. It ‘s the best and fastest growing music search engine in the world, and it’s home grown. You can link to it directly from this mag!
Well, that brings me to the end of this installment. I hope you enjoyed checking it out as much as I enjoyed writing it. Remember to tell you family and friends to come and give the Corner a visit, and feel free to leave feedback or artist recommendations in the comment section. And I look forward to personally meeting some of you at our upcoming events.
Take care, and remember, next time “Catch You on The Corner”!
B. B. Suber
Majestic Music of The Soulful Symphony / Darin Atwater / April 12, 2019 / The Souls of Black Folk!
On March 30, 2019 in the large, well-appointed Murphy Fine Arts Center of the Morgan State University Campus in Baltimore Maryland, Darin Atwater and his Soulful Symphony delivered their angelic music to a sold-out auditorium and its captivated audience; an audience who had waited for nearly four years to see the resurgent Symphony perform again in the Baltimore area. I was in attendance with a good friend of mine (who had initially introduced me to this predominately African American Orchestra), and we had eagerly awaited (along with nearly everyone else I’m sure), for their return. Our wait was now over, and the performance we shared far outshined the memory of just how great not only the orchestra is, but also how great of a conductor, artist, and arranger Darin is, and how great of an influence he is to the Baltimore Maryland area specifically, but also the greater landscape of African American Music in general.
The Concert was entitled “The Souls of Black Folk”; it was named after the book written by W. E. B. DuBois, and the concert was sponsored by the New Shiloh Baptist Church with part of the proceeds going to help pay for renovations to their church home sanctuary. Darin also elaborated via Facebook post (as well as during the concert), upon the Soulful Symphony being named the resident orchestra for Baltimore’s Merriweather Post Pavilion during its summer concert season. The Post Pavilion is a beautiful roofed outdoor concert area that seats approximately 16,000 people. So, if you’re up for great orchestral music you can catch the orchestra there throughout this upcoming summer.
There are a few visible things that you will notice about Soulful Symphony when you see them in concert. The first thing you will notice is that Soulful Symphony has a Choir; in fact, the choir consists of twenty-six voices. There are eight sopranos, and eight altos; six tenors, and four bass voices. This gives SS a huge vocal presence, and the quality of the voices of the singers is jaw dropping (more on that later). Another thing you’ll visibly notice is the number of strings in this ensemble. There are thirty-two total string players. Of that total, there are ten first violins; eight second violins; six violas; 5 cellos, and 3 double bass viols. This number of stings gives the orchestra a lush string presence, which add a very high level of emotional nuance to the music. The sound is utterly remarkable and breathe-taking at times. And, because there are so many strings in relationship to the entire size of the orchestra, the strings are never drowned out by the horn section or the rest of the orchestra and singers. There is always a sonic balance that is pleasurable to the ear; the stage swells with the sound of strings, and the music projects an awe-inspiring emotive aura for the listener.
If you’ve never seen Darin, let me tell you that in height, stature, age range and appearance he might remind you of another famous black conductor Kirk Franklin. I’m sure they’re aware of one another, (and in this particular concert Darin performs one of Kirk’s songs), and they are both from the Pentecostal branch of the African American Church, so there are a lot of similarities between the two men, and their talent level is also on par with one another. Personally, I’m expecting some type of collaboration of the two in the near future. We’ll see; but back to the subject at hand.
Dr. and Mrs. Harold A. Carter Jr
The concert was presided by Dr. Harold A. Carter, JR., Pastor of New Shiloh Baptist Church. Accompanied by his wife, he gave a short speech, with was followed by a speech by Capital Campaign Chairpersons Dr. Robert and Mrs. Wanda Draper in which they also introduced all the members of the Capital Campaign Steering Committee members. And then the concert began.
As the audience became silent, First Chair violinist, the lovely and talented, Ms. Jessica R. Mc Junkins entered from stage right to a round of applause, she elegantly curtsied and led the orchestra in its’ “Concert A” tune up, after which the Conductor Atwater entered to further applause. After a brief interaction with the crowd, the concert began with the song Listen Lord A Prayer, a song that Darin wrote which is based on a poem written by James Weldon Johnson, which was followed by three songs written by Darrin; The Crucifixion, and Judgement Day, and the song Hem, Him, Hymn. All were well done, and very lovely, but the next song was sung by lead Alto Mia Coleman; the old classic hymn Amazing Grace (attached is the Soweto Gospel Choir Version of that hymn). This song was so remarkably sung that it defies explanation. Mia’s range is at least four octaves, if not five. She began her solo at an astounding baritone range, and gradually entered the soprano register. She amazed everyone listening, but, I suppose, the orchestra who listens to this remarkable woman sing regularly. She not only has an astounding range at her control, but she also draws from a deep emotional reservoir as well. She poured her soul into her solo, and you can feel the assuredness and certainty of what she is singing; the listener lives the song with the singer; there’s a oneness the is felt individually with everyone present. This solo was a highlight of many highlights from the evening.
The next female soloist (sorry, I don’t have her name), came to the front microphone and did a rendition of the 23rd Psalm. The interesting aspect of this, one of the most famous Psalms in Scripture, is that the version was written by none other than Duke Ellington! The arrangement for orchestra was, of course, done by Darrin, and the effect of the two was awesomely beautiful. Up to this point in time, this concert is not available on Vinyl, CD, or video, so unfortunately, I cannot link Soulful Symphony’s version, but I’ll link the original version sung by none other than the inimitable
This version is just as beautiful in its own right and will give you an inkling of the performance we were treated with that night.
This Psalm was followed by a beautiful song written by Richard Smallwood entitled Total Praise. As you can hear from this rendition by Mr. Smallwood himself, the song lends itself quite readily to the orchestral experience. Richard is also a great conductor and composer of Gospel music, and he uses an orchestra frequently. Darrin is steeped in the church, and he readily equates the experience of black people in America with the Gospel experience of the church and the faith exhibited by our fore-parents in this land which was strange to them. This is a heritage of the black American experience, and the expression thereof is still strong today. It goes part and parcel with the struggles that black people have dealt with in their time in this country. We are visibly different, and that difference spells an alienation that many of us have endured throughout our lives; be it for better of for worse, it cannot be denied, and one place where it can be expressed in our commonality has been in the Churches; in worship, in the preaching and in the music. It’s a reality of our experience within this country that will never be forgotten, and that reality, and the emotion associated with it is captured in our art, worship and music, and this song is demonstrative of all three.
The last song of the first half of the concert is a song written by Judith McAllister entitled To Our God. This song is a rousing anthem of praise. It’s majestic and mighty in its concept and delivery, and it carries away the listener experientially; you experience the worshipful atmosphere through the music and words. The choir rejoices in the words and the worship the words express, and the audience cannot help but feel not only the majesty of the words being sung, but they also experience a minute measure of the majesty of the One to Whom the song is sung. This song is breathtaking in its delivery and feel. There is nothing nuanced about it. It is in your face and gives you a of glimpse of the majesty that awaits all of us when we one day step into the actual throne room of the Lord of Lords, and King of Kings. The song is so climatic that it leaves your soul crying for a break, and it lead the audience into the intermission on an emotional high.
After the brief intermission there were a few words of gratitude and benevolence from the Pastor Dr. Carter and the Campaign Chairpersons again, the then the concert resumed with Darin’s own song “Wednesday Night Devotions” which was followed by another of Darin’s compositions which was at one time sung by Donnie McClurkin, the song is entitled “Purple” The particular version I linked to is beautifully performed by the WPA Children of the Gospel, and it was similarly, and just as beautifully performed that evening at Morgan State. As the evening progressed, the audience was pulled deeper into a worshipful experience as the choir and orchestra majestically performed their concert. The reverence could be felt as well as it could be heard, and the beauty of the theatre was surpassed by the beauty of the music that filled it.
After two more numbers, both as equally as awesome as the prior two, Darin took a break and exited stage right, relinquishing his station to one of the tenors (sorry, I don’t remember the young man’s name either), and the choir and orchestra brought the tempo up with one of Darin’s contemporaries Kirk Franklin,s tune Love Theory. The ensemble and the young man in the lead delivered a rousing rendition of the song and also lead the audience in a call and response that was inspiring and deliciously enjoyable to hear. The concert was as much a worshipful experience as it was a listening experience, and that was reiterated throughout the evening. It was a peek into the atmosphere of the Black Pentecostal Church experience in the U. S., and that aspect was felt to an increasing degree as the night progressed.
After that rousing number, Darrin quieted the atmosphere with the traditional version of the hymn Holy Holy Holy (Alabama A & M Gospel Choir version). The number was beautifully done and was grand in its delivery. The symphony and Choir were awe inspiring. They delivered three more numbers, one of them being You Made A Way featuring Travis Greene, leaving the audience completely satisfied and emotionally drained, but they weren’t finished, at least not just yet. They put the cap on this amazing evening with the song There Is No Way which was written by Rev. Milton Brunson in the early 1980s. This song completed a great evening to the total satisfaction of the capacity crowd. If you’ve never experienced the Soulful Symphony, I would encourage all of you to check them out at the Post Pavilion this summer. The drive there is not that far at all, and hotel accommodations are moderately priced, and you can take some time and check out the Inner Harbor area of Baltimore while you’re down there too. It’s a good time and a great place in which to soak up the atmosphere of the city’s beautifully refurbished tourist area. For ticket information please check out Darin Atwater on Facebook.
Well, that’s it for this installment of B.C. I’d like to thank any and all of you who took the time to come and check in on what we do here. In the coming months we plan on having many more album and concert reviews for your enjoyment. Please feel free to leave comments in the section provided. We’ll try to respond as time allows. I do work a regular job, and I run a few businesses as well, so my time is limited.
Let me do my due diligence here and state for the record the “I do not own the rights to any video or music used in the production of this article. The items used are for illustrative purposes and the enjoyment of the reader only, and I appeal to the “Fair Use” clause within the law to do so.”
Now that that’s out of the way, remember to hit me up with any items or music you’d like me to review or check out. Also, remember to check out my articles in SoulPitt magazine, and I’m also writing a couple of books on other topics that I love. I’ll make sure and keep you updated about those as they mature.
Thanks you all again, and remember; Next time “Catch you on The Corner”.
B. B. Suber