There is an easy elegance that you find on Soar the recording by Orice Jenkins, a multi-dimensional musician, who just happens to be a multi-instrumentalist as well. It is elegance that you’ll find in the finest performances by a musician today. How remarkable it is that this perfectly formed hour-long performance should have grown from so unassuming a musician as Jenkins. It features an attractive collection of both standards and original compositions that make for a touching and entertaining repertoire.
Whatever you might choose to measure it by there is something affirmative about its authority and triumph. It shows the young performer to already be close to the peak of his gifts. I say ‘close’ and not ‘at’ because Jenkins is much too young to fully realise his potential. That being said, he appears to have been born with a gift not only for ingenuity, but he certainly is fully made of music. There are also intimations that he is aware of this, perhaps too humbly so. His is a well-schooled voice, distinctive in range and pitch. And he uses this to great advantage as he crafts wonderful vocal harmonies that are slightly reminiscent of Take 6. His melodies are thoroughly lyrical and irresistible. He embellishes these with harmony and rhythm that finds great momentum with a cast of artists deeply engaged in his narratives and sub-text, portraying them with outstanding vocal and instrumental colour.
The recurring motif here is freedom and flight. In today’s context; in fact upon reflection of the Black American history – both recent and past – the idiom of ‘escaping to a place where they (blackbirds) are celebrated’ is so utterly relevant. The music here might not pointedly highlight to predicament of blacks in America, but its metaphor is most apt. Breaking free from being all-but-shackled is imperative, Orice Jenkins seems to say. ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’, James Weldon Johnson’s Black American National Anthem is there for a purpose and it soars gloriously, as does every other piece of music on this magnificent disc. I played it with the volume turned down, which certainly is the best way to enjoy the music, which is profoundly beautiful.
Track List: Find Your Love; But It’s Not Me; Bye Bye Blackbird; When I Fall in Love (Interlude); East of the Sun; My Heart; I Only Have Eyes for You; Anatolian Sunset; Body & Soul; Lift Every Voice and Sing; Birds Soar.
Personnel: Orice Jenkins: vocals, Wurlitzer organ, producer, executive producer, arrangements, Songwriting, mixing; Warren Amerman: engineer, mixing, mastering, flute (11); Nelson Bello: congas, shaker (3, 11); Chad Browne-Springer: background vocals (3, 12), featured artist (10); Erica Bryan: background vocals (3, 12), featured artist (4); Mike Carabello: Fender Rhodes (1 – 4, 9 – 12); Nathan Davis: trombone (1 – 2, 4, 7, 10 – 12); Mike Dwonszyk: acoustic bass (2, 5 – 7, 9, 11); Edward LaRose: artwork, photography, graphic design; Dan Liparini: guitar (1 – 4, 7 – 12); Michael Pallas: trombone (1 – 2, 4, 9 – 12); Jocelyn Pleasant: drums (1 – 4, 6 – 12); Tom Sullivan: electric bass (1, 3 – 4, 8, 10, 12); Featured Artists: Tang Sauce (4); Rodney Tenor (12).