Take6 oneTake 6 goes back to their roots with a new album, a new member, and a funkier attitude......
Take 6
Shanachie Records
11tracks / 39 minutes

Fans of Take 6, arguably the world's foremost a cappella vocal group, can't seem to get enough of the soulful, jazzy sound first heard on the group's self-titled 1988 debut. One is the fourteenth project by Take 6 (including three Christmas albums and a live recording) and the band returns to their roots with a collection of tightly-arranged spirituals, one self-penned original, a Stevie Wonder song, and a classically-inspired choral piece – all with the special Take 6 touch.

Produced by the band's own Mark Kibble, David Thomas, and newest member, Khristian Dentley (Dentley replaced the similarly-named Cedric Dent who's taken a teaching position at Middle Tennessee State University), One starts out reaching way back to the a cappella, finger-snapping style of out-on-the-stoop gospel/spiritual singing. The Selah Jubilee Singers' "Down Here I've Done My Best" certainly recalls the spirit of Take 6's initial outing, which featured jazzy arrangements of several of these wonderful public domain spirituals.

Like that first album, there is a mix of contemporary material here as well. The title track, co-written by Dentley, Joel Kibble, David Thomas, and Mark Kibble, is a clever number-themed song in a similar way that "I L-o-v-e u," from the So Much To Say album was an alphabet-themed song. "One" has a 'block party' ambiance, tasty guitar licks and the group's funkiest vocal delivery, showing us the type of vocal break-outs we can expect Dentley to contribute. The group takes a back seat to Stevie Wonder on Wonder's "Can't Imagine Love Without You," content to provide a bed of smooth background vocals as the pop legend takes center-stage here.

Randall Thompson's "Alleluia," well-known to choral groups competing for SATB gradings, gets a lush arrangement from Mark Kibble, venturing into more syncopated timings and jazzy stylings than most choir directors would have dreamed of. Certainly one of the highlights on One, the track is gloriously free from even percussive sounds, allowing the listener to bask in the pure a cappella from the masters of the genre.

"Glorious Day," still found in many a hymnal, certainly never sounded as funky or energetic as the version on this project. If you want to see how far the group took this song, you might want to go here (http://www.hymnal.net/hymn.php/h/987 ) to hear what John Wilbur Chapman's 1909 composition has sounded like when sung in churches through the years.

Less radical are the arrangements of the balance of the public domain spirituals. Of course, the harmonies are warm, rich and typically astounding – but Take 6 has set a very high bench-mark for themselves to live up to. While most of the standards here rely on a solo lead voice against the call-and-response backing of the rest of the group, it takes more than that to raise the level of some of these fairly simple tunes. To compare "You're Gonna Need Him," on One to the similarly-constructed "Mary Don't You Weep," from the 1988 Take 6 album, is to see the importance of having a more complex arrangement to lift some of these songs to a level worthy of the group at its best. Still – this is a new release by Take 6, and I'll take it!

-Bert Saraco

{module Possibly Related Articles - Also search our Legacy Site}