In the Spirit?
Ruth Naomi Floyd begins her new recording Fan Into Flame
where she left off with her last, Walk and Not Be Faint .
That would be with the sleek, swinging delivery of the Good News using jazz as the chariot. Ms. Floyd mines the contemporary (Duke Ellington's "In the Beginning God") and not so recent (Mahalia Jackson's "Lord Don't Move That Mountain") and sprinkles these jewels among her and pianist James Weidman's fresh compositions. All songs save one ("September Song") are based on Christian Scripture and make a good argument for Ms. Ruth's inclusion on Christian-oriented radio play lists, not to mention those of mainstream jazz.
Ms. Floyd's lyric themes revolve around declaration, evangelism, and praise. Her vehicle is some of the slickest, most erudite and daring jazz. Ms. Floyd uses stablemate Matthew Parrish on acoustic bass (Parrish recently released a fine debut disc on Contour , Circles
). She uses the talented Reggie Washington on electric bass and the juxtaposition of the two on the same disc is provocative. Compare the lush instrumentation on Ellington's "In the Beginning God" sporting Parrish's Ray Brown swing with Washington's Jaco Pastorius universal groove on "Strange Land." The bassist joust throughout the recording. Monty Alexander's "Renewal" showcases Bryan Carrott's vibes against Bobby Zankels alto. Central is Ms. Floyd's beautifully warm contralto-mezzo voice. Her phrasing is smart and daring without being careless and is never sloppy, making Fan Into Flame a true pleasure to listen to, as was Walk and Not Be Faint
Fan Into Flame can be purchased from the Contour Records
Personnel: Ruth Naomi Floyd: Vocals; James Weidman: Piano; Julian Joseph: Piano; Bryan Carrott: Vibes; Gary Thomas: Tenor Saxophone And Flute; Bobby Zankel: Alto Saxophone; Matthew Parris: Acoustic Bass; Reggie Washington: Electric Bass; Mark Prince: Drums.