Ruth Naomi Floyd’s jazz is decidedly spiritual. No wonder as she was raised in the Church, daughter of prominent Philadelphia, PA minister, the Reverend Melvin Floyd. She covers the familiar modern hymn “We are one in the Spirit” with enough smart swing to cause the walls to tumble. Smart
is the key operative. Floyd’s arrangements and phrasing are carefully crafted tomes tastefully conceived and executed. Her mezzo voice is pliant and cooperative, very pleasing, exuding her spiritual music and personal convictions.
Ms. Floyd has two other releases on Contour Records: With New Eyes (Contour 0925) and Paradigms for Desolate Times (Contour 0923). She is supported by many of the musicians on this disc, but also uses hard talents such as Uri Caine, Terri Lyne Carrington, and Reggie Washington. Her support is more than up to the task of acting as vehicle to her spiritually dense message.
Spiritual Trend. In 1998, trombonist Clifford Adams released a predominantly spiritual jazz recording in The Master Power (Naxos Jazz 86015). Walk and Not Be Faint continues this trend in jazz. The resurgence of spiritual and Christian themes in all genres has been increasing in strength over the past few years. It is no surprise that jazz would be included in this resurgence considering its considerable debt to blues and gospel music. The pieces on this disc are a mixed bag of Floyd originals drawn mostly from Christian Scripture (“We Celebrate”, “Walk and Not Be Faint”), standards (Billy Strayhorn’s “A Flower is a Lovesome Thing”, Mal Waldron’s “Straight Ahead”), and compositions by band members (pianist James Weidman’s “I’m Telling You Now” and “3 in 1”. Her instrumentation includes violin, flute, soprano, alto, and tenor saxophones. The performances are all uniform and fine. The disc sonics are exceptional.
Personnel: Ruth Naomi Floyd: Vocals; James Weidman, Jason Shattil: Piano; Tyrone Brown, Steve Beskrone, Matthew Parrish: Bass; Bobby Zankel: Alto and Soprano Saxophones; Kangwon Kim: Violin; Ron Howerton: Percussion.