April 1st, 2015

RobertEPerson

Title: Love Divine

Artist: Robert E. Person

Label: REP Music

Formats: CD, Digital (MP3, MP3 320, and FLAC)

Release date: February 3, 2015

 

Listening to Robert Person’s recent jazz gospel album, Love Divine, one may have the feeling of swimming in a river of crazily joyful and mysteriously enchanting out-of-the-world experience of divine love. The new release creates a sensation of “an intense feeling of deep affection and personal attachment.” Robert Person was musically gifted but he further developed his talent at Morehouse College as well as the University of the District of Columbia. He was recently elected for a 2015 “Wammie Award” for Gospel/Inspirational Vocalist of the Year, coming on the heels of his 2014 DVM Christian Music Award as the artist of the year.

Person’s present 12-track album, deriving from several song-writers, is a follow-up to his release of the single “Testify,” composed by Ayesha Daniels and arranged by Person and jazz pianist Allyn Johnson. This single is the opening track of Love Divine and has been described as “an immaculate celebratory musical expression of the gratitude of God’s Love Divine.”

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The next two songs speak of Love: the dance oriented “I Really Love You” and “Love Divine.” On the latter Person’s employment of the vocalese technique sounds melismatic, being as it were, a veritable “open-mouth,” “wild,” “wordless” contemplation of the immensity of the Love Divine. The relentlessly esoteric “Come Sunday,” featuring a jazzy pianistic improvisation by Allyn Johnson, is followed by the quiet and sonorous, semi-recitative musical meditation of the tracks “Healed” and “Somewhere.”

In the swinging “Take a Love Song” and gently march-like “Just Because,” one encounters a cache of intensely harmonic sound that fills the listener with an aura of the uncanny, so characteristic of jazz, evoking the incomprehensible depth of Divine Love which these tracks celebrate. Particularly in “Take a Love Song,” there is the return of the wordless melisma of the “Love Devine” track together with a form of chord progression that reminds one of the musical mysticism of the 19th century Austrian composer, Anton Bruckner. In “For Me,” it seems like the artist is saying: It’s time to dance out the love of God. But after dance comes a meditation on the heavily piano-accompanied “A Word of Grace.” The meditation extends in the guise of quasi-recitative on “God Has a Plan” before the emergence of an upbeat chorus in the later part of the track. The last track, “Because of You,” tells the story of Robert Person’s past. It is an energetic retrospection on the past for which the musician give thanks, acknowledging that all graces and good things of his life is attributable to God whom he addresses in the second person: “I’m here because of you.”

Perhaps it would be good to end with Sarah Hearn’s characterization of the new album: “The Love Divine CD release was Person at his best, offering a smooth, engaging musical encounter that felt like a dear friend lovingly dropping by with uplifting tunes of hope and joy carried on the wings of soothing, luxurious vocals.” Certainly, Love Divine is jazz gospel at its best!

Reviewed by Jude Orakwe

Review Genre(s): Gospel Music and Spirituals


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