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Jeff Duperon Recommends...

Songs for the Soul
Organist Radam Schwartz and Conspiracy for Positivity
Featuring Vocalist Miles Griffith

The voice was the first instrument. The ear, by logical progression, ranks second. Drums were used to communicate over long distances, so they're third. The fourth is the Hammond B-3 organ, with roots that are firmly embedded in the church. During the 1950s and '60s, it became the main voice for "soul jazz," providing a hand-clapping, feet-tapping, rise-up-out-of-your-seat-and-celebrate style that commands your attention. Read More...

Add some spicy guitar, sprinkled with just enough brass, trumpet, and alto saxophone...and you have the makings of a steamy pot of musical gumbo to warm your soul.

"Soul jazz" or "funk jazz" depends heavily on the roots of gospel and, to a lesser extent, the hard-driving syncopation of other forms of jazz, including hard bop. The Hammond B-3 took its place as the centerpiece of the soul jazz combo.

On the CD Songs for the Soul, organist Radam Schwartz leads a stellar group of young musicians he has nurtured in this style.

Schwartz's ensemble, Conspiracy for Positivity, offers a fresh, original jazz sound and brings youth and experience to the bandstand. The musicians include Schwartz on organ, James Gibbs III on trumpet, Luciana Padmore or Joe Brown on drums, Misha Fatkiev on guitar, and Anthony Ware on alto saxophone.

This is the group's third CD on Arabesque, and includes seven original compositions by Schwartz and Marcelino Feliciano. It also features the extraordinary vocalist Miles Griffith, who is among the relatively small group of male jazz vocalists who started recording in the '90s. He's a gritty, big-voiced improviser who favors a hard-swinging, aggressive, full-bodied vocal style whether he is scatting, interpreting standards, or performing his own songs. But for all his intensity, he's also capable of sensitivity and vulnerability.

Schwartz has not neglected the organ groove. The organist and singer collaborate wonderfully; their ability to match their gifts and communicate is apparent throughout. Notice the uniqueness of Songs for the Soul from the opening track, "Get in at the Door," a call-and-response story about an individual who sees his fast lifestyle as a religion...until he gets in at the door. Gospel, funk, and soul all come together in a powerful statement interpolating Parliament's "One Nation Under a Groove," with the sermon "God's got a way, You can't go over, God's got a way, You can't go under, God's got a way, You can't go around...You must come in at the door."

"Curious Visitors" showcases Gibbs playing a Cajun feel, enticing a New York City tourist to check out the venue. The lyrics are a perfect how-to manual on how to come into the fold to anyone not yet open to jazz.

"All Blues" - the Miles Davis composition - is distinctive in the use of a bass vamp repeating through the entire piece. It's a nice vehicle for Fatkiev, who plays an ostinato continuously over the melody, and changes the harmony.

Jill Scott's "Golden" has become the anthem for Conspiracy For Positivity. As the lyrics in this song suggest, members of the band take control of their own freedom; they put feeling into their songs, they sing loud and strong, and they groove all day long - living life like it's golden. Doing as much as you can with your life fits the concept of the band perfectly. Enjoy the good vibes on this CD! You'll want to press the repeat button over and over again.
--Jeff Duperon

Buy the CD Here