Sweet Honey In The Rock
A Tribute – Live! Jazz at Lincoln Center (Appleseed Recordings, 2013)
Female African-American a cappella group Sweet Honey In The Rock has released this double CD that celebrates various musical forms. The great addition to Sweet Honey In The Rock’s sound in this recording is the addition of a jazz trio.
Sweet Honey In The Rock present an exciting mix of American folk, blues, jazz, gospel and African music. A Tribute – Live! Jazz at Lincoln Center honors some of the pivotal songs that first inspired its distinctive style. The album pays homage to Abbey Lincoln, Odetta, Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Miriam Makeba (from south Africa), Carmen McRae, Bessie Smith, and Sarah Vaughan.
The album was recorded during two shows at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Hall in April 2011. There are jazz standards such as “Love Me or Leave Me,” “Wild is the Wind,” and “Tell Me More and More and Then Some”; gospel and civil rights anthems melded into a “Freedom Suite”; Afro-centric songs such as Miriam Makeba’s 1960s international hit song “Pata Pata” and “Sabumoya,” “Shuku Shuku”; and the closing “N’diarabi/Africa is Where My Heart Lies”; show tunes, blues, and a salsa-inspired original song titled “Let There Be Peace.”
Sweet Honey In The Rock was founded in 1973 by Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon at the (Washington) D.C. Black Repertory Theater Company. The group’s current line-up currently includes returning original members Carol Maillard and Louise Robinson (Dr. Reagon retired from the group in 2004) and veteran members Ysaye Barnwell, Nitanju Bolade Casel, and Aisha Kahlil, as well as on-stage sign language interpreter Shirley Childress.
The jazz trio, nicknamed “the Honey Men” provides instrumental support throughout the album. The trio features musical director Stacey Wade on piano and keyboards; Parker McAllister on bass; and Jovol Bell on drums and percussion.
A Tribute – Live! Jazz at Lincoln Center is a fascinating history of African-American roots music. It’s a great opportunity to discover the background of Sweet Honey In The Rock, one of the most important performers of African-American rooted vocal music.
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