145

Ruth Naomi Floyd: Root to the Fruit

Chris M. Slawecki By

Sign in to view read count
Along with her sidework with instrumentalists Charles Fambrough, Uri Caine and other jazzmen of note, composer/vocalist Ruth Naomi Floyd gives voice to her own muse through her own label, Contour Records. Her fifth release continues her longstanding collaboration with pianist James Weidman, known for his accompaniment for vocalists Abbey Lincoln and Cassandra Wilson. It also features James Newton on flute, saxophonist Gary Thomas, and rhythm section aces Reggie Washington (bass) and Ralph Peterson (drums).

Root to the Fruit endeavors to illuminate the intersection between jazz and traditional and contemporary African American Christian faith. There's a surprising amount of musical precedent for this ambition, and Floyd's eclectic program takes full advantage of it. She renders in gospel, jazz and blues hues such traditional spirituals as "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child and "Oh, Freedom, where she pins her deeply felt vocal onto a colorful tapestry of expressively yet exploratory ensemble blowing—"free jazz. Weidman's horn arrangement for "God is My Shepherd (from Antonin Dvorak's Biblical Songs, Opus 99, 1894) echoes of Ellington while his piano accompaniment raises the pensive specter of Bill Evans.

Floyd polishes the lyrics and music of Randy Weston's "Where into a sacrificial moan drawn out from the blues, then lightly seasoned with the funk of this earth. She draws an "Act of Contrition from Mary Lou Williams' 1972 release Mary Lou's Mass, a poignant slice of liturgy where Weidman testifies on church organ instead of piano to preach a soulful sermon from mount Jimmy Smith.

What follows an "Act of Contrition ? Doctrinally as well as sequentially, it's "Mercy. The album's nine-minute centerpiece turns out to be serious jazz, an exploration carved out hard and strong by Thomas' tenor sax into the granite foundation hammered down by Weidman's double-fisted piano.

Floyd's annotations cite the scriptural inspiration/reference for each song. The release further includes as a separate set of liner notes the theological commentary Root to the Fruit: A Nexus of Jazz and Theology by pastor, author and lecturer Rev. Dr. John Nunes, a contributing scholar to Modern Reformation magazine and a member of the American Academy of Religion.


Track Listing: No Hiding Place; Mere Breath; Oh, Freedom; God is My Shepherd; Where?; Dagarth

Personnel: Ruth Naomi Floyd: vocals; James Weidman: piano, organ, melodica; James Newton: flute; Gary Thomas: tenor saxophone; Monica McIntyre: cello; Matthew Parrish, Tyrone Brown: acoustic bass; Ron Howerton: percussion; Reggie Washington: electric bass; Ralph Peterson, Mark Prince: drums.

Title: Root to the Fruit | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Contour


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Provenance CD/LP/Track Review Provenance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 17, 2017
Read No Matter Where Noir CD/LP/Track Review No Matter Where Noir
by Patrick Burnette
Published: November 17, 2017
Read Out Of Silence CD/LP/Track Review Out Of Silence
by Mark Corroto
Published: November 17, 2017
Read Plodi CD/LP/Track Review Plodi
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 17, 2017
Read Secret Language CD/LP/Track Review Secret Language
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: November 17, 2017
Read Shamat CD/LP/Track Review Shamat
by Ian Patterson
Published: November 16, 2017
Read "A Multitude of Angels" CD/LP/Track Review A Multitude of Angels
by John Kelman
Published: December 1, 2016
Read "Ballet: The Music Of Michael Gibbs" CD/LP/Track Review Ballet: The Music Of Michael Gibbs
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 23, 2017
Read "Kalamazoo" CD/LP/Track Review Kalamazoo
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: November 2, 2017
Read "Testimony" CD/LP/Track Review Testimony
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 26, 2017
Read "Chimeric Stoned Horn" CD/LP/Track Review Chimeric Stoned Horn
by Karl Ackermann
Published: September 3, 2017
Read "Relaxin’ With the Miles Davis Quintet" CD/LP/Track Review Relaxin’ With the Miles Davis Quintet
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 19, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.

Please support out sponsor