OK, I admit it, gospel music isn’t the only music I listen to. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE gospel music. I mean come on, running five gospel music websites, I pretty much eat, sleep and breathe it. But, if you’re anything like me and you were raised on a healthy diet of gospel, Motown, 70’s soul music, R&B, and jazz, then there’s still some very positive music out there that finds its way onto your iPod, but doesn’t neatly fall into the “Gospel” category at the Grammy’s.
One group that has embraced the kaleidoscope of musical genres, is SounDoctrine out of Youngstown, OH. They have unabashedly declared their music style as “originalternativefunkjazzfusion,” but they could easily have called themselves “gospel” as all of their music sends a message of “good news.” It was Shakespeare that said, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” and SounDoctrine forgoes traditional labels and offers up their own sweet sound to those who might not visit the gospel bin at the CD store.
SounDoctrine first came to our attention several years ago with their debut project, Perseverance, followed by sophomore release Endurance. In keeping with the single-word titles, their latest offering, Inspire on Niayana Recordings serves up inspiring tracks and will put even die-hard “gospel-only” lovers at ease with lyrics that fall in lock step with biblical principles.
It is at this point I will pause and mention that I owe SounDoctrine and Jere B a sound apology. Jere B’s been trying to get me to review this project since its release in October 2010, and now I see why. I won’t go into all of my excuses for not reviewing it until now (which seemed pretty good at the time), but let’s just say I wish I’d done it sooner. Inspire is a project that deserves to be talked about and pushed to the forefront. A project that graciously gifts the listener with the full force of Jere B’s heart and soul and with the immense talent of the musicians, vocalists, and producers poured into every track.
Not only does SounDoctrine skillfully run back and forth across musical genre lines, they seem to time travel effortlessly through modern music history, weaving in and out with instrumental-only tracks and tracks with vocals. Hitting the 1950’s with the do-wop inspired “Love Wins Again” featuring Carlton J. Smith & showcasing The Legendary Edsels, they travel on, serving up a 60’s-inspired psychedelic vibe on “Originalternativefunkjazzfusion” featuring Cliff Barnes on organ, that morphs into the slow groove of “War No More.” The socially conscious “Just Think” and “Brother’s Keeper” are reminiscent of the 70’s “What’s Going On?” by Marvin Gaye. SounDoctrine hits the present day with full force, busting a hip hop-rap- floetry-spoken word (or call it what you will) groove in “Relax (The Freedom Mix)” featuring Jasmine Thompson & Erin Thompson.
Along the way, SounDoctrine continually returns to its jazz-fusion roots including the smooth-jazz “Sacred Place,” the moving “Surrender” and the title track “Inspire.” The 3rd track on the project, “Marriage,” is a jazzy gem reminiscent of Jeff Lorber Fusion’s early days. Writer Jere B uniquely labels the instrumentation as “husband” for the sax line, “wife” for the flute, and the “Holy Spirit” for the piano. When coupled with two other Jere B written tracks, “Meant to Be,” featuring Stefano NuSoul and Jasmine Thompson, and “(That’s Why) It’s Called Love,” one can only imagine what must be an inspiring God-centered union between “Mr. and Mrs. B.”
All of Inspire‘s musicians and vocalists bring forth stellar work, with notable performances from Keith McKelley on sax, Alton Merrell on piano, Cliff Barnes on piano and organ, and Paul Douds on guitar. The vocals from the various artists throughout the project are smooth and strong and cause one to stop and wonder at this depth of talent found in Youngstown, OH. I’m sure this is old hat for Youngstown, but for the rest of us, who knew?
Listening to Inspire is like listening to your iPod on “shuffle;” you never know what’s going to come up next, but it’s all good. Inspire is a marvelous showcase of talent, not the least of which is the talent of songwriter, percussionist (“and all other sounds & noises”), and producer extraordinaire, Jere B. Jere B’s vision and commitment to uncompromisingly great music is an inspiration to us all. One day, When the world fully discovers who Jere B and Soundoctrine are, they’re going to be an “overnight success.” Until that time, we who know, are blessed that the group continues to “persevere,” “endure,” and “inspire.” As the liner notes for the CD’s title track say, Inspire features “…a beautiful array of Youngstown, Ohio artists.” We, here at DetroitGospel.com, couldn’t agree more.
For more information on SounDoctrine, visit their website at www.soundoctrine.com.