Ralph Lofton
Quiet Times Vol. 1

The album is called Quiet Times Volume 1, and the cover art suggests some quiet tickling of the keys, perhaps bringing to mind a quiet brook with gentle breezes waft familiar melodies into the air.

Quiet Times Vol. 1 CDFamiliar melodies, yes. But this debut and first in a series of instrumentals from the fledgling and Zomba-backed Harborwood Records features the organ mastery of Ralph Lofton.

Youíve heard him on projects ranging in diversity from Hezekiah Walker to Vickie Winans to Yolanda Adams to Dawkins and Dawkins to The Canton Spirituals. So forget the breezes and toss the brook, because with Lofton behind the keyboard for the entire 10-track session of hymn interpretations, itís more like winds of fire and cascading torrents.

Click for CD review As the foundational instrument in Gospel, Lofton's organ and keyboard peers are many, including Billy Preston, Twinkie Clark, Melvin Crispell, Daniel Weatherspoon, Rudolph Stanfield, Kevin Bond, Cedric Thompson and others.

Moses Tyson Jr. is another; you can check out his album by clicking the image above.
Lifting the strains of familiar hymns and stamping them with his own accessible arrangements that grab attention without an excess of showy flairs, Lofton shows his knack for keeping the essential nugget of the melody never too far from the improvisations that he swirls around the backdrop of bass, guitar and rhythm support (courtesy of Terry Baker, Simeon Baker and Al Willis).

Songs such as "Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah" and "What A Friend We Have in Jesus" celebrate the timeless tunes with Lofton embellishing with creative motifs and ripples of runs woven throughout. "In The Garden" and "Is Your All On The Altar" are other welcome inclusions.

As the only song not in the public domain, Margaret Pleasant Dourouxís wonderful classic "If It Had Not Been (For The Lord on My Side)" is marked by a riding groove and Loftonís ability to get the maximum diversity of sounds out of the organ box, with piano joining in as well.

If you need some schooling in how to make the keyboard work a song, get out your pen and take some notes. This would be your class, Ralph Lofton would be your teacher.

So shhhhh! Because if you're studying, then you need some Quiet Time.

Producers: Ralph Lofton, Paul Wright
album release date: April 17, 2001
Harborwood Records

ó reviewed by Stan North ó

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