by: Take 6

One of the great joys of this largely a capella sextet is that while the message of Christ is at the center of everything they do, their spiritual presentation never comes across as heavy-handed. Their recordings and live shows are more invitations to share the joy they have in the Lord, rather than the "believe or else" type of message. This exquisite live date (recorded at Tokyo's Blue Note in October 1999) features a perfect balance of the R&B, jazz, and gospel that made them famous, combining tunes that are all vocal textures (like the buoyant "If We Ever Needed The Lord Before") with pop tunes redirected towards God ("Smile" and "How Sweet It Is") that feature gentle accompanying instrumentation. Most impressive amidst the joyful churchy grooves is the break into a tribute to a lesser god, that of chief influence Miles Davis. The cover of "All Blues" features a vocal bassline and some gentle vocalese over an intimate piano harmony (by Take 6 member Cedric Dent) before breaking for a wailing trombone solo by Claude McKnight. The tune then explodes vocally as various members of the band re-create the trombone and muted trumpet sounds and wail along. Very inventive. Another clever moment comes on the lengthy closer medley "I've Got Life/Spread Love" when the six split into a vocal trio and a percussion trio which sounds like a full blown hip-hop drum machine track. If only all church services were this enjoyable! ~ Jonathan Widran

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