Don Byron’s New Gospel Quintet – Love Peace and Soul (2012): Half Notes

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The debut of this soulfully swaying amalgam finds Byron – one of this era’s more intriguing jazz clarinetist/saxophonists – turning his attention to the layered musical legacies of Thomas A. Dorsey and Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Dorsey, known as the father of black gospel, pioneered the combination of traditional Christian hymns with the rhythmic complexities of jazz and blues. Tharpe shared a similar curiosity for new sounds to carry praise messages. Together, they helped redraw the template for spiritual expression, and formed a uniting thread within the country’s varied African American communities. Byron celebrates this often forgotten history, even as he expands upon it here through a series of imaginative turns by vocalist D.K. Dyson, pianist Xavier Davis, guest guitarist Vernon Reid, trumpeter Ralph Alessi, baritone saxist J.D. Parran and Byron himself, of course. Key tracks on Love Peace and Soul – due from Savoy Jazz on Tuesday, February 21 – include Dorsey’s “Take My hand, Precious Lord,” the familiar Tharp favorite “Beams of Heaven,” the old-time swinging “Highway to Heaven” and “Himmm,” a new ballad from Byron that touchingly relays his own faith journey.

‘Half Notes’ are quick-take thoughts on music from Something Else! Reviews, presented whenever the mood strikes us.

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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