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Edmar Castaneda Jazz Angel of Columbia South American February 25, 2019

 

On February 2, 2019 the stage of Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild (Pittsburgh, PA), was graced with the duo of South American (Columbia), jazz virtuoso musicians Edmar Castaneda/ harp, and Grammy Award Winner Gregoire Maret /harmonica. The banality of the previous sentence cannot begin to convey the explosion of beautiful music these two exceptional musicians shared with a captivated and enchanted audience.

 

The sound that emanated from the electric harp of Edmar was at times ethereal and at other times just down to earth funky, and Gregoire’s harmonica expertly and fluidly accentuated the heights and fancies of the spirited and lively playing that Edmar’s fingertips produced. Edmar can make a harp sing, thump and cry. His emotional range on his instrument is just as wide as his virtuosity is high. He brings out sounds and music that you would never expect a harp to produce, and he emotes in such a marvelous fashion that he can make you feel what he is feeling as he plays. And just as great of a musician as Edmar is, Gregoire is his equal with his “ax” of choice, the harmonica.    The product of the two musicians was amazing beyond description, and after being blown away by their performance, I had to meet the two musicians in person and purchase

Edmar’s latest CD; Edmar Castaneda World Ensemble (Live at the Jazz standard).    Both men were very friendly and Edmar (in his ever preset Kangol style hat) was extremely engaging, and he also was pleased to know that they would be featured on my small corner. Gregoire, on the other hand, spoke very little English so we couldn’t communicate much (especially since my Spanish is probably much worse than his English), although he spoke volumes on stage with his harmonica.

Gregiori Maret

Since I only wore my music fan hat at the Guild concert that night, I did not take notes. At times a person must simply exist and enjoy the music, and that’s exactly what I did, but the album I purchased brought a small sampling of what I witnessed at the concert home with me. The album has only six songs on it, but those six songs are all lengthy (the average length is about 10 minutes), and those six pieces give you an inkling of what the live performance spectacularly delivered. By the way, Edmar is also an accomplished composer as well. Of the six songs, all but one (Carrao Carrao), were composed and arranged by Edmar, and the entire album was produced by him too!

The World Ensemble consisted of six other musicians besides Edmar and Gregoire: Marshall Gilkes/Trombone; Itai Kriss/Flute; Shlomi Cohen/Soprano Sax; Pablo Vergara/Piano; Rodrigo Villlon/Drums; and David Silliman/Percussion. There are also three “special guests” on the album; Andrea Tierra/vocals; Tamer Pinarbasi/Qanun (a middle eastern lute like instrument); and Sergio Krakowski/Pandero (a tambourine like instrument).

The first song on this colorful album is entitled Cuarto De Colores (Room of Colors). From the initial downbeat Edmar jumps in with both feet, or, as I should say, both hands. He pounds out the melody with a ferocious intensity that doesn’t let up for nearly the entire eleven minutes of the tune, and all the bassline you hear is played via the Edmar’s left hand on his harp. It’s startling how much sound and power he produces out of his instrument. When I first heard him play, I did not know what to expect. I had never seen an electric harp, and I anticipated the sound associated with the acoustic version of the instrument; well, I was wrong. Although the sound is very similar, the electric harp produces a harp sound that is on steroids! Its bold and vibrant in a way that is otherworldly. You just do not expect to hear what you’re hearing, and….its great!

Cuarto de Colores is a song that reeks of Columbia and the Latin flavored jazz of the region. The rhythm and flow of the music is indicative of the region from whence Edmar hails. The African influence is a huge part of the music just as the black people of South America make up a large part of the continent’s population. Their influence cannot be denied, but it is instead celebrated within the music, rhythm and dance of the Southern Hemisphere. South America is a large “room of colors” and every color of the heritage of the people of the region manifests itself in the music. This tune exhibits that reality in an energetically superb fashion.

The length of the song also allows space for the song to evolve and transform in complexity of sound and feel. The horn section has a meaty quality to it; they sound loud and large in unison, and as all the musicians are allowed their room to speak during this number, they each add their own flavor to the rhythmic soup, the result is a journey of grand proportions. Itai Kriss’ flute solo is creative and spontaneous. It is balanced and crisp and never becomes laborious. Itai seems to frolic through the measures as he tells his delightful story. He is followed by the virtuoso talent of Gregoire on the harmonica.

Edmar and the Harps!

Although for most Americans the harmonica may evoke thoughts of Stevie wonder or Toots Theilesmens (he of Sesame St. fame), or even Lee Oskar of the band WAR, but Gregoire has a style all his own. He plays in a style that is reminiscent of a guitar player. He approaches each note at times almost as if he were plucking a string. It’s a wonderful effect that adds to the complexity and timbre of the instrument. But he also allows the uniqueness of the harmonica’s qualities to shine through as well. He’s an amazing musician and fills the room with his soul and sound. Percussionist David Sillman exhibits his talents for a few bars, and then as the song winds down with each horn player improvising for a few bars and the song ends as abruptly as is began. This song is amazing from beginning to completion and it never leaves the listener fatigued (but I can’t say the same for any dancers who may try to keep up).

The third song on the CD is entitled Jesus De Nazareth. It’s a beautifully enchanting song that evokes a pacing quiet grace. Edmar is a religious man, and although not in overbearing fashion he does openly acknowledge his Christianity. This beautiful song emotes his faith in a way that words cannot. Its genesis is enigmatic as it quietly builds in dynamics, complexity and urgency. It continues its inexorable march and slowly grows into a heavenly melody of unearthly beauty. This is initially a solo number that displays a certain simplistic complexity that very few solo instruments can pull off; the harp is made for a tune like this.

As the song builds, the listener can hear all the intricacies of the harp. The bassline and melody seem nearly independent of one another; almost as if they were played on separate instruments. At almost exactly six minutes in, the entire band joins in to help tell the story. It’s the Gospel according to Castaneda, and although there are no written words, one can begin to understand what Edmar’s Savior means to him. We can also begin to gain some insight into Edmar’s quiet regal character the he publicly exhibits.

Adrea Tierra

Although not written by Edmar, Carrao Carrao, the fifth song of the CD is a beautiful number that I simply must talk about. A carrao is a beautiful wading bird indigenous to Florida and South America. The lovely voice of Adrea Tierra sings this song which also happens to be the only vocal number on this CD. The eerie beauty of this tune goes hand in hand with the beauty found on this CD itself, and it also lends itself to the beauty of Edmar’s craftmanship on the harp. Andrea sings with and insistent grace that draws you in even if you speak no Spanish. And one thing I found so remarkable is her ability to thrill the double “r” in the Spanish language. I, personally, have never heard anyone thrill those consonants to such an extent. The ability accentuates the beauty and mystery of the song. Andrea has an impeccable voice, with masterful command of her vocal cords, pitch and range. This song exudes mystery intertwined with the call of nature’s beauty. It’s a lovely interlude on an intensely rich album. A “must listen” for any music fan.

The last song on this CD is entitled Zamir Blues. This song is the funkiest tune on the disc. It has a cool steady groove and it keeps you rocking. The song begins with a funky bass intro that Edmar so expertly plays with his right hand on the bass strings of the harp, eventually he begins to explore the improvised melody of the intro with his left, his technique and musicianship as stellar as ever. After the brief solo intro, the percussion and drums set a smoking rhythm to accompany the harp, and usher in the entire band. Edmar continues the bass line which anchors the tune and the groove. After a few bars of nastiness, the entire ensemble enters in and the band erupts into the body of the song.

The World Ensemble.

The number has a familiar tone and quality to it, but the music is new and fresh. The song progresses and Gregoire begins to speak to the crowd with an inspired melodic funky and thoughtful harmonica voice which leaves the listener in awe while being completely entertained. The trombone of Gilkes speaks up next. He pours out his thoughtful sermon in a complete and satisfying fashion. Finally, Edmar enters in again with his solo, and you’re again amazed by the bass hand he displays, but there’s a reason for that too. You see, Edmar’s bass hero is Jaco Pastorius (Edmar even named a song after him), and Edmar has learned a thing or two about how the bass should be played by one of the best bassists ever.

This song has all the elements of a classic, and the one thought that I cannot shake as I contemplate America’s Black History month, and as I listen to not only this song, but the entire album, as well as jazz music from the four corners of the world is just how influential and ubiquitous American Jazz has become, and how it has shaped and defined modern musical language. Jazz is a language that brings people from diverse backgrounds and circumstances together. It’s America’s gift to the World’s musical conversation. A gift that was born in the rough fields of American slavery; a gift that was born out of the African rhythms of drumbeats heard on a distant continent, and a gift that was birthed out of the interpretation of a culture and a music that was foreign to and foisted upon unwilling subjects. This music is a bridge to all of mankind. It can be heard on every continent in the world, and it speaks a universal language that all can understand. Out of adversity emerges supreme beauty.

Well, once again I arrive at the end of another fun adventure. I must apologize for the, as of late, irregular postings. I am doing a lot of research and listening to various artists and I am trying to bring fresh and new (or, should I say, unfamiliar), artists to the conversation. I don’t want to become bored or sound stale as I do what I love, and this it to entertain (I hope) you. I hope to bring many new and extremely good local musicians to light, and (as I do not want to jump the gun and tip my hand), I hope to bring some exciting local musicians to the table, and also continue to write about established artists that I like as well.

Let me do my due diligence and state for the record that I do not own the rights to any music videos or images of artists that appear on this page or in this article. I refer to the “fair use” clause within the law to use this material.

I want to stir up interest, as well as give you a hint of things to come, by letting you know that N-Motion Entertainment will not only continue to bring stellar musicians to the Stage, but we will be doing some exciting work along the lines of some of the events we have done in the past. Tell you family and friends to stop by the “Corner” and read the articles, leave comments, make suggestions, and in the near future, you will be able to take advantage of special offers and discounts available only to readers of this article. We appreciate all of you, and I ‘d like to personally thank any and all of you for stopping by and checking things out.

Well, that’s all for now, and as always, next time “Catch You on the Corner”.

B. B. Suber

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Brian's Corner

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

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.

Nubia Garcia

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.

Moses Boyd

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.

Artie Zaitz

 

 

 

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

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Brian's Corner

Majestic Music of The Soulful Symphony / Darin Atwater / April 12, 2019 / The Souls of Black Folk!

Conductor / Musician Darin Atwater

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

Mahalia Jackson.

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.

 

Kirk Franklin

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

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