News Jazz 09/01/2018

James Weidman - Black Spirituals Re-Imagined Into Jazz Spiritual Impressions

New York, NY (Top40 Charts) Early Reviews:
Weidman offers solid ideas on how to make old traditional material contemporary. Ruth Naomi Floyd whose rich vocals help breath new air into old music. Floyd is one of Philadelphia's gems. A fresh jazz interpretation. -Robert Rusch, Cadence Magazine

There's a lot going on here in this piano vet's latest. Feeling not quite like cocktail jazz or after-hours jazz, once you get into it, you hear this really is a set of spirituals that have been taken out the back door of the church to where the party is going on. Blowing the dust off of tunes that picked up the dust traveling on the underground railroad, this is a dandy ear opener that'll make you think as well a listen. -Chris Spector, Midwest Record

Weidman and his ensemble pay tribute to a difficult time in American history on "Spiritual Impressions." The group makes the songs sound contemporary without forgetting about their original purpose.
-Dodie Gould Miller, Lemonwire

A valued pianist, James Weidman has been a sideman and accompanist in many settings over the past 30 years, from Abbey Lincoln, Cassandra Wilson, Steve Coleman to Kevin Mahogany and the Grammy nominated Joe Lovano Us Five. His latest recordings as a leader include Truth and Actuality and October
Feeling on Inner Circle Music. Weidman's music fits into the modern mainstream of jazz without being predictable. With original chord changes and voicings, his mastery is demonstrated with various changes in rhythm and time. Weidman is on the faculty of William Paterson University.

The Spirituals is a genre of music created in the 19th century by the Black people trapped into a forced labor system during the turbulent period that ultimately led to war and liberation. This poignant music was both an expression of devotion to their God and an expressed longing for freedom from the state of bondage.

These two concepts were not mutually exclusive. Just as in the scriptures, where God delivered the Israelites from Egypt-land and Daniel from the lion's den, surely this same God would deliver every man, woman and child from the inhuman, involuntary servitude that had existed in the south. The Spirituals is music whose tones and rhythms range from the jubilant, to the mournful from song to song. In the 20th century in Black churches, these songs were often included as part of devotional services that preceded the actual Sunday Service. They were often sung during communion and baptisms. They were sung by choirs in arrangements by Black composers who while trained in the European classical music tradition, understood the importance of the legacy of these works. Today, more than ever, it is important to note that the musical testaments that are evoked from these collections of songs serve not just as windows of some exclusive history of African-Americans but indeed, it is an important part of the shared history of all Americans.

The music as conceived by James Weidman is re-interpretations and sonic re-imaginings of these historic songs. Besides piano, James plays melodica on "No Hiding Place" and organ on "Wade in the Water." All the tunes on Spiritual Impressions, are arrangements of the spirituals except for "African Spirals" that is a homage to the ancestral continent and the ancestors of the people brought here in the middle passage. The spiritual, "Walk Together, Children" the last track on the album is a solo piano piece performed by Weidman.

Ruth Naomi Floyd is the vocalist. Weidman has had a long association with Floyd as producer and arranger on three of her critically acclaimed recordings. Multi-reed instrumentalist, Anthony Nelson plays tenor, soprano saxophones, bass clarinet and flute, Harvie S plays acoustic bass and electric bass, and Vince Ector plays drums, djembe, sangba for an indelible experience and journey of the collective spirit.

James Weidman, piano, organ, melodica
Ruth Naomi Floyd, voice
Anthony Nelson, tenor, soprano saxophones, bass clarinet and flute
Harvie S, acoustic and electric bass
Vince Ector, drums, djembe, sangba

1. Didn't My Lord Deliver Daniel 6:06 arranged by James Weidman
2. Deep River 7:19 arranged by James Weidman
3. No Hiding Place 4:34 arranged by James Weidman; Ruth Naomi Floyd Sesac Naru Music
4. Prelude To Freedom Troubled Waters 1:23 composed by James Weidman
5. Wade In The Water 5:41 arranged by James Weidman
6. 6 Nobody Knows The Trouble I See 5:12 arranged by Aaron Graves Imani's Faith Publishing BMI
7. Joshua Fit The Battle Of Jericho 6:21 arranged by James Weidman
8. You Hear The Lamb A Cryin 7:19 arranged by James Weidman
9. African Spirals 6:36 composed by James Weidman
10. Let My People Go 5:36 arranged by James Weidman
11. Walk Together Children 4:35 arranged by James Weidman

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