Calvin Napper
Sticks of Praise

To toil in the background takes discipline, dedication and a heart that knows that that ministry does not necessarily bringCalvin Napper CD spotlights. And then to transition from background to ‘front and center’ is an adjustment that few are able to make with ease.

With a hugely extensive background as a Gospel drummer, with credits on projects from the Tri-City Singers to John P. Kee to Karen Clark-Sheard and numerous others (more than you could shake a drumstick at!), Calvin Napper makes that transition to solo artist again on his creatively titled sophomore project, Sticks of Praise.

There’s eight cuts on the project, all classic jazz, plenty drum and some occasional vocals tossed in to round out the package. While the disc truly does emphasize Calvin Napperdrums, by no means it a 'beats only' affair. Joining Napper on the set is the standard guitar, saxophone, bass and keyboards, with familiar Gospel names such as Maurice Fitzgerald, Cedric Thompson and Reggie Graves handling their various duties on certain cuts.

“A Drummer’s Perspective” is one of six Napper originals on the project, and is a carefree romp that easily holds itself together with Karen Greene’s sax stylings. On “My Hope Is Built”, Napper overlays a gentle syncopated snare effect over the familiar melody line set out methodically by Rodney Edge’s keyboard, before small ensemble vocals kick in.

Other trophy tracks are the sax melody-driven mid-tempo title cut, and the riding “Melodies of Wisdom”, in which Napper’s drum kit holds court —kicks, rolls and all.

Gospel jazz is still somewhat of a rarity, and a solo drum project even more so. For that reason alone, Sticks of Praise is an intriguing addition to anyone’s Gospel collection.

Producer: Calvin Napper
album release date: September, 1999
Cal Nap Productions

— reviewed by Stan North

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