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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.
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
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