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The Standard

Take 6

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Album Review

There are two ways to interpret the title of the famed multiple Grammy- and Dove Award-winning vocal group's debut on Heads Up Records. First and most obviously, it's a reference to the way they have been setting high bars in the jazz and gospel worlds for 20 years, scoring as many Grammys as Doves (ten) with their beautiful and snazzy vocal textures. Then of course there's the wonderful choice of classic jazz material, ranging from their whistle and fingersnappin' approach to "Sweet Georgia Brown" to Nat King Cole's exuberant suggestion to "Straighen Up and Fly Right" and Ella Fitzgerald's "A-Tisket, A-Tasket," featuring her own charming vocals from a session done in 1938! In taking a traditional jazz approach to some of the Great American Songbook's foundational treasures, the sextet ensemble has had so many guest artists they could temporarily be dubbed Take 7, 8, or 9. Besides bringing back Ella, they've got George Benson's snappy lead vocals and crisp guitar lines on the Cole song; the vocal zigzags of Al Jarreau and lyricist Jon Hendricks on Hendricks' classic "Seven Steps to Heaven" (which also features the cool flugelhorn of Till Brönner); and a wistful Aaron Neville on the geographically appropriate "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?" Group member Claude McKnight's famous vocalist brother Brian McKnight gets in on the grooving gospel of "What's Going On?" Beyond the all-stars, Take 6 also discovers some new talent with Shelea Frazier, who wrings every ounce of emotion out of a touching "Someone to Watch Over Me" with the help of Roy Hargrove. "Shall We Gather at the River" and the Quincy Jones/Jeremy Lubbock wordless seduction "Grace," remind us of Take 6's gospel roots, and a witty twist on the Sesame Street standard "Bein' Green" makes it suddenly cool and environmentally proper to be that color. The track features colorful new lyrics by the family of the song's composer, the late Joe Raposo. True to the album's title, Take 6 sets a new standard of creativity on their latest disc.

Biography

Formed: 1985 in Alabama

Genre: Religious

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

With its roots in gospel, doo wop, and the sophisticated jazz-influenced singing groups of mid-century America (such as the Hi-Los), the a cappella vocal group Take 6 is both a throwback to an earlier, more genteel era of American music and a precursor for a number of black male pop groups of the '90s, most notably Boyz II Men. Its members include David Thomas, Alvin Chea, Cedric Dent, Mark Kibble, Claude V. McKnight III, and Joey Kibble (who replaced Mervyn Warren). McKnight and Mark Kibble caught...
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The Standard, Take 6
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