MP3 Masque - 811
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24 MP3 Songs
JAZZ: Smooth Jazz, JAZZ: Traditional Jazz Combo
2003 Stellar Award Nominee
CD of the Year
Recorded Music Packing of the Year
Independent August 13th, 2003
The immense popularity driving "smooth jazz" radio across the country is leaking more noise in the gospel vein. Masque, whose first CD, Thank You, garnered attention from Billboard and the Stellar Awards three years ago, mixes jazz with other urban (Latin, house, funk) ingredients.
Keeping those grooves intact, this instrumental unit releases 811/Infinite Love, a concert recording including a bonus 5-song studio EP. The Chicago-based band is credited with co-arrangements and production but the bulk of songwriting belongs to keyboardist/pianist Clifford Johnson and drummer/percussionist Kamaron Jarmon. Other members are Pierre Walker on keys, John Goldman (reeds), bass guitarist Timothy Fullerton and Wilbert Jarmon on guitars with several supporting players and vocalists.
Despite just two CDs since its formation in 1985, Masque has backed countless talent, such as Daryl Coley, Tramaine Hawkins, jazz unit Yellow jackets and R&B vocalist Dave Hollister. Last year, Masque expanded their ministry, performing for critical causes such as the Melanie Veliz Cancer Fundraiser in Aurora, Illinois.
The concert portion is ushered in with Take Over, centering the lead bass guitar of Fullerton, displaying a Stanley Clarke delivery (fast runs, chording). The horns mold with the rhythm section in this funk excursion.
An exquisite transition flows into the next selection, Change Me, featuring saxophonist John Goldman.
Some encouraging words via Clifford Johnson precede Right Here. When experiences in our personal lives seem to indicate the Lord is "far away or He's maybe on a break, the God of Israel, He never slumbers nor sleeps" (Psalm 121:3-4)." After Clifford's keyboard solo, John Goldman provides another joyous saxophone journey.
We've heard of "the 411" and calling 911. Now the call's out towards a love unconditional, 811: "I would not dare put my face in a frown cause you're around." Lead vocalist Eva Fullerton lays down some irresistible scat adlibs.
My Gift To You displays all the instrumental gifts of the band. In this danceable jam, the midsection has a frenzied duet with percussionist Tony Carpenter and the thumping bass guitar of Tim Fullerton. Check out the audience feeling this vibe.
The drum patterns on The Right Connection reflect ska (a la The Police). While the bass guitar and sax carry the melody, heavy guitar feedback and clicking percussion back the proceedings.
Pierre Walker cites a sermon he heard growing up from his father entitled, "Launch Out Into The Deep", the basis for Walker's composition, Launch Out. The main lesson is derived from when Peter trusted the Lord enough to step out on the water (Matthew 14:28-31), and ultimately how we handle challenges, which expands our trust in Him.
Time Conscious set to a waltz tempo, spotlights Johnson's keyboards and John Goldman on flute.
Blending a stew of blues, jazz and traditional gospel, Jesus, the only non-original piece, provides soulful and "in-the-pulpit" leads vocals that unashamedly sing, "Jesus, when my burdens get me down".
The vocal choir provides a soothing sounds cape with wordless vocals on The Valley.
Jocelyn Winston and Kareen Franck sing a rousing duet on He Is The One. The Lord's love is truly remarkable: "He is the One who give me piece of mind, He is the One who's ruler of all time, He is the One who died that I might rise."
The disco-laced Thank You is another exchange of gratitude for why we love the Lord and why He saved us. The band instructs the audience to "put your hands together if you like the way it sounds".
Beginning the bonus studio CD is the dance-floor selection, I'm Sorry, with lead and background voices by Andrea Love. Filled with subtle electronic beats and rock-solid acoustic drums, the self-explanatory song talks about the process of repentance.
Keeping the family flow with the chants of "fiesta forever" by Karmine, Shantel and Kamaron Jarmon, Soul Fiesta centers on the gingerly lead acoustic guitar of Dave Onderdunk. There's no doubt Lionel Ritchie's All Night Long was the foundation for this Latin funk jam.
The studio version of Time Conscious almost echoes the concert effort.
Rock Of Ages, is given a new musical face by arranger, Clifford Johnson. The two-man collaboration of the multi-keyboards by Johnson and Kamaron Jarmon's drums/percussion coaxes blues and jazz tones.
The instrumental mix of I'm Sorry and a repeat of the live recording 811 complete the second CD.
811/Infinite Love was captured at the Katherine Dunham Theatre at Kennedy-King College in Chicago. Carpenter and Brian Schwab help fill out the brass and rhythm sections. A very endearing vocal group including Fullerton and Winston provide both lead and background duties. Love and Onderdunk are the added musicians on the studio sessions, which rarely deviate from a live setting, even with some keyboard programming.
Just take the advice from concert announcer Catchell Coffee: "put on your Masque and enjoy the candy to your ear". And that candy is totally healthy for your soul too.
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By: Peggy Oliver - Feedback
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