Monday, December 19, 2016

Enoch Smith Jr., The Quest, Live at APC

When music conjoins with religious practice, my guiding view is first and foremost the quality of the music, in jazz as in any style. So hearing Enoch Smith Jr.'s fourth album The Quest, Live at APC (MisFitMe Music) I at first took no notice that the two piano trios represented here (Smith on piano for both) and the two vocalists who preside over several of the songs are making music for the Jazz Vespers service at the Allentown (NJ) Presbyterian Church, where Smith's music alternates with readings from the scriptures once a month.

No, the music first hit me and put a smile on my face. Only then did I recognize what the music addressed.

Enoch Smith Jr. is a fine pianist with a contemporary mainstream flourish, someone who can come up with very together compositional frameworks and arranged folk hymns.

This is hip music by any standard. The trio and vocalist Sarah Elizabeth Charles give us a stunning version of Chick Corea's "Open Your Eyes You Can Fly," and the Smith original "With Me." Emily Braden is no less convincing on "Creator," "Home" and the old "Jesus Loves Me."

This is good, excellent jazz that speaks with a modern day voice. I like it a great deal!

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