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The Soul Deacons: Skippin

Jim Santella By

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Ray Charles did it better than anyone. He brought deep-rooted soul out of the church and into popular music. Jazz and blues need that kind of inner soul in order to survive. It's usually offered up alongside creative works that sometimes contain lyrics and usually come on the heels of spontaneity.

In a program that combines soul music with swing and big band authority, The Soul Deacons bring us popular songs that focus on storytelling with a backbeat, tight horns, and plenty of genuine emotion. Brother E. Clayton tells it like it is, while his big swing band and backup singers surround him with comfortable thrills.

An instrumental number, Pee Wee Ellis' "The Chicken (made famous by the late Jaco Pastorius) gives the album its biggest jazz kick as guitarist Steve Hill and tenor saxophonist Nick Thompson turn up the heat. The piece is anchored by a thrilling electric bass vamp that gathers momentum with organ and congas alongside. The Soul Deacons feel as at home with jazz and blues as they do with R&B.

Lead singer Clayton grew up in New Jersey, New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore. He inherited jazz and blues from a blue-collar perspective that grew out of a love for the songs of Sam Cooke, Curtis Mayfield, and more. Most of the session places its focus on popular R&B. "Don't Knock My Love reveals a firm funk resolution, while "Deeper in Love With You parades a sample of contemporary blues around the room.

The band has been recorded with a clear balance that makes its songs come alive. At under forty minutes, however, the session leaves you wanting for more. "You're Just the One (I've Been Looking For) makes a suitable title for this album; just as relevant as Skippin' Church. Not limited to Sundays, this is one welcome session that entertains every day of the week.


Track Listing: Hold Back the Night; Don

Personnel: Brother E. Clayton: lead vocals, background vocals, piano; Jimmy Martinez: bass, background vocals; Steve Hill: guitars, background vocals; Steve O

Title: Skippin | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Self Produced

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