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Vocalist Kurt Elling may be seizing the headlines as of late and deservedly so we might add, yet Miles Griffith is a New York City based jazz vocalist who warrants some degree of acclaim, especially after listening to his new release titled Spiritual Freedom. With this recording, Griffith enlists the great pianist and educator James Williams along with the fine drummer Tony Reedus and a notable cast including percussionist Bobby Sanabria, bassist Vattel Cherry, pianist Stephen Scott and others.
On the first piece “Hey, It’s Me You’re Talking To”, Griffith commences the proceedings on a positive vibe while scatting through a rapid swing/bop motif boasting an affable hook. Here, James Williams leads the charge with strong support from drummer Tony Reedus and a scathing bass solo by Dwayne Burno. Griffith sings and scats from the heart while crossing octaves as if it were child’s play. The title track, “Spiritual Freedom” features the dual electro-acoustic bass attack from Ernie Barnes and Vattel Cherry as the band pursues a loose feel while Griffith scats, hums and digs from within in authoritative yet meaningful fashion. The musicians perform a soft yet swinging rendition of “Love Is A Many Splendored Thing” which includes a dash or two of classic jazz traditionalism. Griffith’s melodious, and airy version of the time honored, “Sunrise, Sunset” from the fabled Broadway musical, “Fiddler On The Roof” gets an added boost from Bobby Sanabria’s buoyant and resonant yet amiable percussion embellishments. Cole Porter’s “Just One Of Those Things” receives the full blown swing treatment featuring Griffith’s vivacious scat vocals and emphatic rendering of the lyrics as the emotionally charged interpretation of this classic is pure music magic!
Spiritual Freedom features a sagacious track mix along with hearty support by an ensemble who were unquestionably up for the occasion while Griffith makes a conspicuously notable difference as a jazz vocalist. Without a doubt, Miles Griffith’s time has come! Highly Recommended. * * * * ½
On Selected Tracks: Miles Griffith; Vocals, Percussion: Jamal Haynes; Trombone: James Williams; Piano: Ernie Barnes; Electric Bass: Vattel Cherry; Acoustic Bass: Ankie Shellis; Percussion: David Pleasant; Percussion, Harmonica: Taru Alexander; Drums: Dwayne Burno; Bass: Tony Reedus; Drums: Bobby Sanabria; Percussion: Stephen Scott; Piano: Richie Goods; Bass
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As a kid, my mom told me I'd like jazz. I thought she was nuts. Then I went to hear Cannonball Adderley (with Nat Adderley, George Duke, Walter Booker, Roy McCurdy and Airto) and everything changed. Yeah, mom knows best.