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The spirituals from Spirituals & Dedications are traditional songs from the Christian church. The dedications here are to the immensely spiritual men of our modern musical times. Flutist and soprano saxophonist Jane Bunnett and her husband/producer/trumpeter Larry Cramer assembled two often overlooked and under appreciated musicians, Stanley Cowell and Dewey Redman, to breathe sanctified life into some classical music.
Dewey Redman's tenor opens the recording on Bunnett's composition "Don's Light" in dedication to her late partner, pianist Don Pullen. Redman mixes his warm and amiable tone with Bunnett's soprano into a melancholy farewell. Strange beginning, but things tend to soar from there. Vocalist Dean Bowman injects his 'bright moments' chuckle as a send-off to Rahsaan Roland Kirk's "A Laugh For Rory." Bunnett rushes forth a spirited flute delivery of the Kirk classic and you know you have to listen straight through to the end of this disc. Bowman threatens to steal the limelight throughout this session. This is his second outing with Bunnett, the first being her Ritmo & Soul (Blue Note 2000) recording. Bowman is a youthful and eloquent version of Joe Williams. His God-like voice agrees with so much of this music.
The band covers Charles Mingus' "Ecclusiastics" straight from the sanctified church by way of the blues. Pianist Stanley Cowell flirts with Bud Powell and Art Tatum here and there, delivering several double take solos. Cowell at one time was a member of Rahsaan Roland Kirk's band, wrote two titles here, one in dedication to the trumpeter Cal Massey and Illusion Suite from the 1974 Clifford Jordan recording Glass Bead Games. The late saxophonist Jordan's huge sound is well represented here.
As for the spirituals, Bowman duets with Cowell on "I'm Gonna Tell God" and Redman on "Nobody Knows" are chilling and humbling to listen to. This band has reached a higher power and provided a stunning performance.
Track Listing: Don's Light; A Laugh For Rory; I'm Gonna Tell God; Illusion Suite; Shadrack; Cal Massey; Powerful Paul Robeson; Nobody Knows; Ecclusiastics; Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child.
Personnel: Dean Bowman: voice; Jane Bunnett: flutes, soprano saxophone; Stanley Cowell: piano; Larry Cramer: rumpet, flugelhorn; Mark McLean: drums; Kieran Owens: bass; Dewey Redman: tenor saxophone.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.