Uros Markovic/Gospel Jazz Trio: Jesus Saves (2008)
Markovic is a superb drummer, polyrythmically exciting but controlled and rock solid. He could hardly have chosen better compatriots for the Gospel Jazz Trio: pianist Eric Lewis and bassist Reginald Veal, both alumni of the Wynton Marsalis groups, are completely in tune with Markovic, and the former contributes a pair of strong tunes suffused with the good news. The remainder of the album is made up of traditional gospel songs such as "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" and "Holy Holy Holy," all completely convincing and enjoyable as pure jazz regardless of the religious overtones.
On "Wade in the Water," Markovic's deployment of constantly shifting rhythms over Lewis's propulsive clusters and runs recalls nothing more than Coltrane's classic quartet with McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones. Veal's bass solo on "Swing Low" is a highlight, bouncy and bluesy, while his ostinato pulse really drives the Lewis-penned title track, a spacious and sneakily funky tune. The album climaxes with an ecstatic reading of "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child," which builds over nine minutes from a quiet piano run-through to crashing, slightly "out" trajectories before coming back to earth.
If the testimony of several newly converted Christians in the liner notes are any indication, Markovic's work with the Bowery Mission must be as persuasive as his music. Thankfully, Jesus Saves is supremely ecumenical: it speaks a musical language that is universal, and should touch believer and non-believer alike. Jazz listeners can enjoy Markovic's swinging stick-work and see where the Spirit moves them.
Track Listing: Jesus Saves; Swing Low Sweet Chariot; Hallelujah is Done; Converted and Convertin'; Wade in the Water; Glory Glory Hallelujah; When the Gates Swing Open; Blood Running Warm; Holy Holy Holy; Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child.
Personnel: Eric Lewis: Piano; Reginald Veal: Bass; Uros Markovic: Drums.
Record Label: CTA Records
Style: Modern Jazz