The Tribe of Benjamin
Raize Da Prayze

Headlining a project for the first time, this collective of seven Ben Tankard protegés fulfull the promise they first showed in 1997 on Tankard’s Git Yo Prayze On project on Verity.

While his name may be absent in the album title, Ben Tankard has his hand all over this project, as he produces and arranges, The Tribe of Benjamin CDmixes and engineers every cut. Gospel’s famous minstrel is also responsible for all of the instrumental tracks.

But it’s The Tribe who continue their knack for knocking out jazzily soulful vocals, with leads coming from Cassandra Robertson, Lynitra Eskridge and Jeffery White. Acrobatic and vibrant when occasionally appropriate, but generating a soul-soaked mellow vibe for much of the length of the CD, their voices mix and blend well, yet retain their individuality. That one-person distinctiveness conveys a tone of personal praise, helping to bring the listener into personal praise as well.

“Your Love Is Extravagant” emerges as an album highlight, with its uncluttered, almost barren instrumental arrangement and clear vocal lines of trading female and male leads The Tribe of Benjaminlending the right effect to the highly reflective and praiseful tone of the song. “Blessed Is He” also forces the use of the CD player repeat button, as The Tribe adds a sanctified and infectious worldbeaty vocal of “whoa-whoah” to the Gary Sadler song.

While the majority of the songs presented are jazzed re-arrangments of Integrity's renowned worship and praise material, Tankard does contribute two originals of his own, including the deeply grooved title cut. His second composition is a remixed and redone version of “Git Yo Prayze On”.

A cool breeze is always appreciated, especially in the church house. In this case, that breeze is The Tribe of Benjamin, and the source of the breeze is their refreshing Gospel jazz vocals.

Producers: Ben Tankard
album release date: October 19, 1999
Integrity Music

— reviewed by Stan North

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