David Murray Featuring Fontella Bass
Speaking In Tongues

This is an unexpected find. Be warned. It’s serious jazz.

Renowned jazz man and tenor saxophone maestro David Murray presents a rousing Gospel jazz session by painting incredible interpretations of standard Gospel hymns on the CD canvas. In doing so, he not only David Murray CDrecruits some brilliant side men, but also the rousing vocals of Gospel veteran, Fontella Bass.

Bass may be known to many for her massive 1965 R&B hit, “Rescue Me”, however the 90’s have seen her transform and return from where she started, with a no-doubt Gospel artistry —her 1995 album No Ways Tired on the Nonesuch label earning critical acclaim.

On this project, Murray wisely lets Bass carry the day on a number of tracks, including fresh takes on “How I Got Over” and “A Closer Walk With Thee”. Both are infectious, and are taken to even greater heights with the swirling Hammond B3 sounds of Jimane Nelson, whose intricate organ line weaves its way around the vocals of Bass to create a glorious musical tapestry.

Murray, himself no stranger to the church, comes through with some masterful intepretations of other hymn classicsDavid Murray as well as some Gospel originals. With Hugh Ragin on trumpet and Ranzell Merritt on drums, the complete jazz treatment is applied with a openness and a verve to standards such as “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen” and “Blessed Assurance”. Jazz enthusiasts will revel in “Jimane’s Creation” and “Missionary”, two originals that combine for a track total of 18 minutes.

This is a fascinatingly complex album that combines a little bit of vocals with a whole lot of jazz. The title of the project is both scriptural and metaphorical, for these jazz instruments are but tongues for which to praise. Oh, for a thousand tongues!

Producer: David Murray
album release date: August, 1999
Justin Time

— reviewed by Stan North

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