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Darron McKinney The Breath of God Alliance Entertainment (2013) www.darronmckinney.com
By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog
Once outlawed from all churches but the sanctified churches as a tool of jazz babies (at best) or the devil (at worst), the saxophone has since become the predominant solo instrument in gospel jazz.
Darron McKinney is one of today's sacred sax players. Coming from a musical family of ten siblings, he studied under jazz master Alvin Batiste at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and received a BET Jazz Discovery Award.
McKinney's new solo CD, The Breath of God, finds him expressing his religious feelings on soprano, tenor, and baritone sax. A portion of the album’s m.o is jazzing today’s gospel hits, such as “Nobody Greater,” Darius Paulk’s hit for VaShawn Mitchell, Marvin Sapp’s “The Best in Me,” and Mary Mary’s “Go Get It.” McKinney weaves his improvisational motives in, out, under, and around the main melodies that are carried by other instrumentalists or the background vocalists. Incidentally, Luther Jackson’s lead vocal on the album’s single, “Never Alone,” is the album’s standout vocal track.
Other album highlights include the Dixieland version of “This Little Light of Mine” and the contemporary gospel choir feel that the background vocalists give “In the Midst.” The traditional sensibility of “Grace and Mercy” is buoyed by a B3 warble.
While many of the album's offerings fall into the smooth jazz category, one notable exception is the eight-plus minute “A Child is Born.” McKinney does his most inspired work on this selection, punctuating with periodic blasts of brass the wistful and introspective atmosphere of a club combo playing in the early hours. On the other side of the aural spectrum, “War Cry” evokes the fever pitch of a Pentecostal service.
The liner notes do not indicate who participates on what track, so the fine piano work on “A Child is Born” and “This Little Light of Mine” might be from one of a number of keyboardists listed. Nevertheless, The Breath of God is a smooth way to cool down from a busy Sunday.
Three of Five Stars
Picks: “A Child is Born,” “War Cry.” Posted by Bob Marovich at 8:46 PM
By Marsha Lynn Battle Philpot
I just want to want to take a few moments to comment on Darron's new CD, the Breath of God. It is AWESOME! I believe that this is a work that has the potential to reach the same heights as the gospel instrumentals of Kirk Whalum.
There are familiar covers and gorgeous original tunes, and it has the right balance of contemporary and traditional gospel to satisfy the tastes of a wide demographic.
There’s enough of the smooth jazz sound to appeal to the non-church person, enough r&b flavor to rock the old school, and enough old time gospel to meet the Saved and Sanctified criterion of the venerated Church Mother in your life.
Darron’s deep spirituality is all over this; from the shofarr-esque clarion that opens the spectacular “War Cry”, to the quiet, prayerful refrains on other selections. There’s enough here to get your praise break on, as well as music to accompany prayer and meditation (and I daresay, there’s a tune or two that the hustle and ballroom folks will love).
I may do a longer review of this CD on my blog, http://marshamusic.wordpress.com/, but for now, let it be said that this is one of those CDs that will remain in “play” from now on. I bought TEN copies after hearing the CD at its opening launch, for this will be a great gift.
Darron, the big man of God, has created a new Gospel masterpiece, and the Breath of God is all over it. http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/darronmckinney3