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Wycliffe Gordon: The Gospel Truth

C. Michael Bailey By

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Deep River. At this posting, I am still awaiting Wycliffe Gordon's new release on Nagel-Heyer. In the mean time The Gospel Truth revealed itself to me. Imagine my surprise when I found this brand-spankin' new Criss Cross release by none other than the 'bone master his self. Decidedly in a gospel vein, I was at first skeptical. In my limited experience, I have found that these types of theme discs do not work so well. However, the musicianship that made Wynton Marsalis' In This House, On This Morning a success, makes this release a success. The success of both is due in large part because of the fabulous talent that is Wycliffe Gordon.

Wycliffe Gordon may very well be the finest trombonist playing today (apologies to Mr. J.J. Johnson). Gordon's work is documented on scores of recordings with Wynton Marsalis and Marsalis' disciples. For this service, Gordon is keeping company with Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra bandmates Marcus Printup, Victor Goines (talk about a guy who needs a major label contract), Eric Reed, and Winard Harper. In some ways, Gordon is the least of the equation. Like Marsalis, he is an Andrew Carnegie of music: a genius who surrounds himself with genius.

From Spirituals to Swing. There is standard fare of spirituals here with a hodgepodge of vocalists. I was fearful that the vocals would distract from the instrumentation, but that proved to be unfounded. Goines is his level best on sax or clarinet, Printup's muted "Yes Jesus Loves Me" shines like Dizzy's Diamonds. Eric Reed plays as if at a revival. But, in the end, it is Gordon who shines his little light. Whether it is in his compositions like the gutbucket "The Deacon's Moan" (complete with moaning from Carrie Smith), "The Gospel Truth", or "The Message", or his superb open-bell solos ("The Lord's Prayer", "We have Come into This House"

. "What a Friend We have in Jesus" is transformed into a traditional jazz tome. "The Lord's Prayer" begins with a solo trombone that sounds every bit the low organ. This music is pure invention that is readily accessible and applicable. Have no fear.

This is a very strong release from a rising star in the jazz atmosphere. Warmly recommended.

Track Listing: Jesus Loves Me; The Deacon's Moan; What a Friend We Have in Jesus; The Lord's Prayer; There's a Tree; The Gospel Truth; Take My Hand Precious Lord; The Hallelujah Scat; We Have Come Into This House; The Battle Hymn of the Republic; The Message. (Total Time: 57:25)

Personnel: Wycliffe Gordon: Trombone, Tuba, Vocals; Marcus Printup: Trumpet, Vocals; Victor Goines: Tenor and Baritone Saxophone, Clarinet; Eric Reed: Piano; Reuben Rogers: Bass; Winard Harper: Drums; Carrie Smith: Vocals.

| Record Label: Criss Cross | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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