Sheila E. and the E Train
Percussionist, vocalist and songwriter, Sheila E.'s second record for Concord Jazz has a low-key and yet distinct Gospel imprint on it, from nearly start to finish.Producer: Sheila E.
album release date: October, 2001
Smoothly cool and in jazz format, Heaven is a fresh wind with new (and familiar) passengers on the ever-changing E Train band making their mark.
Opening and closing the album are two brief compositions. The instrumental "Anticipation" begins with Sheila E.'s spoken line, "it all started when I decided to open my eyes". The closing "Revelation" has a simple lyric amidst sax solo, "eyes are open, now I see you Lord".
And so the theme and the tone is set for the project.
Radical for Christ mainstay Mano Hanes writes the instrumental "Joy" and joins his keyboard work with Sheila E.'s rhythms along with Donald Hayes' saxophone and Maurice Fitzgerald's bass.
Mano is also credited as co-writer with Sheila E. on "Closer", as the same crew is joined by George Duke on mini Moog. Sheila's wordless vocals start the first half of the number before her complex percussion break overwhelms and then accompanies Duke's improvisations.
The song "Trust Me" is a live-sounding cool flow of guitar, trumpet and bass with Sheila E. softly singing her testimony of trust in Jesus Christ, and offering the same hope to others. Lynn Mabry's backing vocals emphasize the chorus as Ramone Flores' prominent muted trumpet softly blares the triumph. The cut is also marked by some great percussion and keyboard breaks.
More RFC members step onto the E Train on "I Can Go On", as Marvin McQuitty joins Hanes and Sheila E. in writing, as does Joey Woolfalk. The driving rhythm paints the determination expressed in the lyrics sung by Sheila E. (with slight vocoder effect), which tell of our ability to go on 'as long as You're by my side".
Other highlights are a good cover of Nicole Nordeman's "River God" and also "Who's Taking Care of You" with lead vocal from Lynn Mabry and guitars from Paul Jackson Jr.
Several other selections are included, not all of them Gospel.
Memorable in both content and musical form, Heaven is another quality album to put on your list.
reviewed by Stan North —
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