Take 6 have always been bold. Their musicality is in-your-face, their inventiveness is brash, and their approach to their art is strong.Producers: Marcus Miller, Take 6
album release date: June 4, 2002
Their strength continues on Beautiful World, a studio album from this half-dozen. On some previous projects, Take 6 have experimented with musical accompaniment, with mixed levels of success. Here, they find middle ground, delicately balancing their accapella mastery with some sensitive instrumentals and production courtesy Marcus Miller.
Miller seemingly has that ‘Take 6 musical mindset', and demonstrates an ability to inject just enough instrumental extras to make the sound fresh, without distracting from those patented impossibly-close harmonies, doubled octaves and outright jazzy vocal jams.
As for the instrumentalists themselves, they’re a slew of familiar names such as Kirk Whalum, David Sanborn and Vinnie Colaiuta, along with Miller on various items.
The song selection on Beautiful World is mostly very familiar stuff, but until now, material not known in a Take 6 context. The group has taken their pick of R&B, pop, rock and Gospel mega-hits and molded them into their unique framework. Consistent with their work to date, the material is always uplifting and inspirational, if not outright Gospel in lyric.
There’s Peter Gabriel’s “Don’t Give Up” (featuring several additional backup voices, including some members of Virtue on backup), there’s Sting’s “Fragile” and there’s a couple of Bill Withers’ classics: an near-urban take of “Lovely Day” and contrastingly, a folksy “Grandma’s Hands”.
Several songs seem destined to become classics. Take 6’s interpretation of “Wade In The Water” is one of those, with Alvin Chea’s walking vocal bass line anchoring the cut, amidst muted trumpet from Mitchell Stewart.
Interview with Claude McKnight
“We first met Marcus Miller while he was working on the David Sanborn Sunday Night Show, back in the late 80's. Marcus is such a well rounded musician and his producing style is so laid back. Musically speaking, I feel that we feed off each other...|
Read the full interview.
The cover of Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready” is another. Smooth and refined, and resting on soft beds of Fender Rhodes and mini-moog synth from Miller, it’s hard to believe that Take 6 hasn’t done this before.
Unfettered accapella makes its only appearance on this project in the form of Thomas Dorsey’s classic “Peace In The Valley”. The song will appease the purists with its throwback sound to the early projects from Take 6.
Stevie Wonder’s “Love’s In Need” is frequently covered by Gospel artists. It’s Take 6’s turn here, with Joey Kibble taking lead and Whalum adding his saxophone touch to the number. Mark Kibble joins his brother on the title track, "Beautiful World", a finger-snaps tune originally from Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen that’s embellished here with extra melodic elements from the group.
Lalah Hathaway is given the rare honor of being a guest lead vocalist on a Take 6 album. She fittingly duets with Mark Kibble on the conga-driven remake of “Someday We’ll All Be Free”, a song written and made famous by her legendary dad, Donnie Hathaway.
Always fascinating and daringly eloquent, Take 6 adds to their deserved reputation for vocal pioneering on Beautiful World.
Warner Brothers Records
reviewed by Stan North —
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