An incredibly good listen from the inimitable Take 6
Catherine S. Vodrey | East Liverpool, Ohio United States | 09/08/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's been noted that this, the first and eponymous Take 6 album, won the group Emmys in both the gospel and jazz categories. The honor was deserved on both counts, as their music somehow manages to straddle jazz and gospel without sounding either derivative or precious. This is strikingly original music, by an explosively talented group of six young men. The fact that the songs are a cappella makes their achievement in this album all the more laudable.The harmonies are perfect, and I don't use that word lightly. I have listened to this album dozens and dozens of times and I can't find a thing "off" or teetery about the vocals. Everything is strong, pure, clear, and beautifully structured without losing the wonderfully relaxed jazz flavor every song bears.The album opens with "Gold Mine," a tune about feeling that God's love is a gold mine and something the singers "never expected to find." On their by-now-classic "Spread Love," the group exhorts the listeners to do what the title says, and they do so in such a loose-hipped, snappy, charming way that we are all but commanded to follow their directive. "If We Never Needed the Lord Before (We Sure Do Need Him Now)" is at once worshipful and something you might hear some guys singing on a street corner in Brooklyn in the early 1950s--it's that boppy and humorous.The group's strength here is on the traditional gospel tunes like "Mary" and "Get Away, Jordan." On "David and Goliath," though, Take 6 positively soars. Commencing like the cautionary tale it is, the song soon surges ahead into a tale that's both tremendously tuneful and filled with humor. The singers employ a variety of vocal techniques and even spoken word work to show the marked contrast between David and his giant enemy. Every line is a wonderment of restraint and thoughtful musicality, while the song as a whole positively bursts with energy. It's a delight, over and over again, no matter how many times you hear it."
First recording is the best
David A. Beamer | Clawson, MI United States | 07/23/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"First things first: this is a phenomenal recording by 6 guys with terrific "chops". Singing in 6-part tight jazz harmony is extremely difficult; it takes a very good ear. Well, there are 12 very good ears here. They are cool, tight, and they swing, but they are not over-produced. You can listen to it as primarily jazz, or primarily gospel, or you can just listen and enjoy.I own about half of Take 6's CDs. As far as I'm concerned, this first one is still the best. "So Much 2 Say" and "So Cool" come close. The recordings where they stray from their a capella roots are much less effective -- all the extra sound covers up their excellence.There are a few tiny things in the recording that they probably wish they hadn't have done (like the sound of breaking glass added at the end of one song), but it's very hard to find much to fault here. Not only are the performances just about perfect, the arrangements are excellent -- and they were done exclusively (? not sure about that -- don't have the CD in front of me) by the members of the group. Terrific attention to detail. Almost all the singing is without vibrato, but they add a thick vibrato in two short phrases, to great effect. About half the songs are almost exactly the same tempo (meaning they run the risk of a stale "sameness"), but they get away with it. Each track has many gems to explore. I never get tired of listening to this recording, and there are very few recordings I can say that about.All those "boy bands" out there don't even belong in the same category with Take 6. Period, no exceptions. They also blow away groups like Rockapella or Manhattan Transfer. For my money, the ONLY a capella jazz group that can compete with Take 6 (and maybe even beat them) is the Real Group (3 guys and 2 gals) from Sweden."
The other reviews said it all
Reggie Gilliam | Gary, Indiana | 04/26/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Basically, Take 6 is heaven sent! There are other accapella groups out there, but, no one can quite do it like these guys. The vocal range, harmonies, arrangements, style, etc. I can listen to songs and usually pick out the parts (harmony). But with Take 6, I have to rewind over and over to hear what they are doing. I have a pretty good musical ear, but I still have not learned each part to these songs and I've had this CD since 1989! But I really enjoy listening to this CD for both the message and the arrangements. If you haven't heard this CD, you must check it out! I love the entire CD, but my favorite is "Get Away Jordan"."
Pure genius, pure joy
Earl Hazell | New York | 06/19/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was an undergrad college musician studying jazz composition with the immortal saxophonist and arranger Jimmy Heath, when he took time out of the class to play something, as he had promised (because he said we "need to hear this") and put this CD on.We all sat in the class, smiling... until we heard the first thirty seconds of the first tune.We then sat dumbfounded and silent, with our mouths hanging open, for the rest of the recording.Ten years later my feelings about them haven't changed. Pointing out my favorites on this particular CD is almost pointless; you have to hear and own all of the renditions of this seminal jazz recording. It is guaranteed to astound you with Take 6's virtuosity and flawless arrangements, and the sheer joy you hear and feel uncontrollably with every uptempo tune. The entire thing is done A capella, seemingly revealing the potential of a century or more of ensemble choral tradition from barber shop to the best of Manhattan Transfer, as it takes any and every expression of such, it seems, to heretofore unknown levels of artistic purity. And still they managed to be so fun that on some tunes you just want to laugh at loud! The ballad "There is a Quiet Place' may have tears welling up in your eyes.Beautiful."
M. Fields | Brooklyn, New York USA | 06/22/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"So here's how I first got aquainted with Take Six. I turned the radio on as I always did, years ago, to fall asleep. The disc jockey said, "you've got to hear this group. They're amazing", or something to that effect. As the album started to play I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I sat straight up in bed and my ears clung to every note. The next day I went racing around town to find the album but to no avail. It was sold out everywhere. I finally got hold of it and played it to death. I taped it for my dad (a musician) and he took a copy to his brother (also a musician). They went racing to the record store (I wasn't giving them my album) down on Park row in Manhattan. The poor clerk said that people had been asking for it all day long and the shelves were empty. Then he said, "you guys are musicians aren't you?" and they said yes. He let out a big heavy sigh, went into the storage area and came back with albums. After that my dad and his brother called all of there musician friends and had a listening party for that album. They claimed they didn't want any women around chatting and laughing while they were trying to listen. I couldn't even get in and I was the one who brought it to their attention! Oh well.
This album is the best of all the Take Six offerings. It's so hard to find good acapella music and even harder to find it in a gospel form. This album is a classic now. I wouldn't give it away for all the tea in London. All the tunes are original compositions written by the group members themselves. Their harmonies are rich and lush but the lyrics come through clearly which is important especially when singing gospel music. I think I would call this work innovative. If you like acapella music you'll love this disc. I'm very sad to say that the group seems to have lost their focus as the later albums became less and less quality.
Don't lose hope though. There is another group called Chanticleer who also sing mostly acapella music. They are however, somewhat higher on the evolutionary scale, so to speak. Their body of work is much broader and more sophisticated. Give them a listen."