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Craig Hayes Dot Com

Craig Hayes and the United Voices
Live In Philadelphia

Now in the 21st century, Craig Hayes and the United Voices mark their independent label debut and their third project with another strong collection of songs. Characteristic of thisLive in Philadelphia CD Trenton NJ collective, Live in Philadelphia is defined by catchy melodies, a refined approach and tight band work.

The Professor lays out his curriculum with a vibratic and punctuated anthem of gratitude, "Oh Give Thanks" before he proceeds to instruct in the Jamaica Funk inspired "Worthy To Be Praised". 'UV and he say it' over a horns and bass driven groove.

With a marvelously controlled vocal approach, The United Voices remain at the top of their East Coast choir class. Diction is never questioned and tenor, alto and soprano sections balance each other out consistently, showing equal strength. Slower ballads are always a challenge for a choir, so the 8-minute plus "Be Thou Exalted" is a good example of just how disciplined they are. Reggie Young's work on orchestration and acoustic tenor bass and Willie Brown's work on guitar add just the right flava.

While Hayes is often found soulfully leading the albums cuts, he doesn't hesitate to bring in famed guest lecturers when a point needs to be made. A good example here is on track #8, where Bruce Parham and Ebony Marshall take duet lead on "Love Lifted Me", with its familiar lyrics and fresh but classic contemporary Gospel sound.

"I Have An Assurance" is wrapped in the renowned Craig Hayes sound —the same one that generated acclaim Professor Craig Hayeson his previous two projects. With a syncopated keyboard motif and walking bass line. Pastor Michel White Haynes ably handles solo duties on this one.

Jointly produced by Hayes and NY's Reggie Young, this live project is a text-book case of good production technique. An always-present balance between choir, band and soloists and unobtrusive overdubs mixed in provide a mix of studio-like clarity with the raw energy of a live recording.

As the Professor professes with blunt and elegant simplicity on one of the album's interludes, "everybody come on". Listen, learn, take notes, and you'll go to the head of the class with this A project.


Producers: Craig Hayes, Reggie Young
album release date: June, 2000
Power Records


reviewed by Stan North



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