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From the first notes of "Sweet Georgia Brown," the listener knows this will be a treat. The a capella vocal group known as Take 6 updates several classic with vigor on The Standard, and their swinging harmonies set them apart from other vocal acts.
Claude McKnight, elder brother to R&B star Brian McKnight, co-founded the group in 1980 at a parochial college in Alabama. Though there have been many personnel changes, the style was unbending: blend six voices in a variety of music, including jazz and gospel. They've won many awards, including ten Grammy honors, and have collaborated with numerous artists of various genres such as the Yellowjackets, Stevie Wonder, Queen Latifah, Don Henley and Ray Charles.
Mark Kibble performs lead vocal and whistles on "Sweet Georgia Brown," the song popularized by the Harlem Globetrotters. The members' harmony explores the highs and lows of male vocal range. George Benson plays guitar and leads on the delightful "Straighten Up and Fly Right," while the Take 6 background is like a subtle blend of horns with words. Benson enjoys a brief guitar solo and scats toward the end of the song.
Jon Hendricks and Al Jarreau share the leads on "Seven Steps to Heaven," and Till Bronner joins the ensemble for a flugelhorn solo. A sample of Ella Fitzgerald's voice is used to lead on her popular "A Tisket a Tasket,' with Take 6 backing her up in vintage doo-wop style.
Kibble and group member Cedric Dent engage in a vocal dialogue to set up "Bein' Green," a positive spin on Kermit the Frog's anthem. Aaron Neville takes lead on a charming take on "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?" During the "instrumental break," the members use their voices to ad lib like a Dixieland horn section. Brian McKnight then joins his brother and the others for a charming cover of Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On?"
Part jazz, part R&B, part gospel, The Standard is Take 6 doing what it does best: using the human voice with and without words to make beautiful music.
Track Listing: Sweet Georgia Brown; Straighten Up and Fly Right; Seven Steps to Heaven; Windmills of Your
Mind; Someone to Watch Over Me; Grace (pre-prise); Back to You; A Tisket a Tasket; Bein'
Green; Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?; What's Going On; Shall We Gather
at the River; Grace.
Personnel: Mark Kibble: lead vocals (1, 3, 4, 11), vocals, whistle (1); Claude McKnight: lead vocals (4,
7, 12, 13), vocals; David Thomas: lead vocals (4), vocals; Joey Kibble: lead vocals (7, 9, 12),
vocals, spoken word (9); Cedric Dent: vocals, spoken word (9), piano (9, 13), keyboards
(13); Alvin Chea: lead vocals (1), vocals; George Benson: lead vocals and guitar (2); Jon
Hendricks: lead vocals (3); Al Jarreau: lead vocals (3); Till Bronner: flugelhorn (3); Shelea
Frazier: lead vocals (5); Roy Hargrove: trumpet (5); Miles Robertson: keyboards and
Rhodes (5); Mark Bowers: guitar (5); Mark Kelley: bass (5); Butter: drums (5); Jamaal
Andrews: bass (7); Khristian Dentley: instruments (7); Ella Fitzgerald: lead vocals (8); Aaron
Neville: lead vocals (10); Brian McKnight: lead vocals (11); Jimmie J.J. Hodges Jr.: drums
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.