Marquis Egerton & Friends In Unity Mass Choir

I was speaking to a friend the other day, and we were talking about what was spinning on our CD players.

"Yeah", I said, "those new releases by Kirk, Yolanda and Dawkins & Dawkins are hot alright". But I had to say that right in the middle of that well-known trio was an artist that I had not heard of till last month.

That would be Rev. Marquis Egerton & Friends in Unity Mass Choir, out of South Carolina. This group has injected so much gospel juice and strong ministry into their album that I simply have no choice but to let it keep spinning on my system.

Marquis Egerton albumThe album slams by starting with the cut "Jesus Is In This Place", where choir and band pump driving energy into the disc, with Rev. Egerton working the solo with his sometimes James Moore-sounding vocals. This project is one of varied styles, but unlike some other albums, this is not a question of doing many styles poorly.

No, whether it be the Caribbean-etched boisterous call and response "I Am", the smooth choir ballad "Worthy", or the straight-up new-traditional choir numbers such as "There Is Hope", and "On Christ", each is accomplished masterfully and with raw finesse.

It's also a credit to the song-writers that each cut is memorable in melody and rhythm. One of the strongest songs in my books is "Everybody Oughta Know", where soloist Victor Robinson takes us on a grooving soulful journey, powerfully handling the embedded musical hooks that incorporate elements of El Debarge's classic "All My Love".

On the production side, there really is nothing to fault. It's a live album, and although there is plenty of crowd participation, choir, band and soloist are balanced well throughout.

I'm hoping that this project gets a break somewhere along the line and doesn't get lost in the shuffle with the slew of big-budget releases recently. It's encouraging to see that these tiny labels can still sometimes spring some unexpected wonders on us.

Producer: Marquis Egerton
Right Way Records

reviewed by Stan North

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