The Hammond organ is no stranger to spiritual music, but seasoned with jazz, blues and country flavors of second line drumming, saxophone, fiddle, and lap steel, Little Faith delivers on what it calls “Madri Gras erupting at a tent revival behind the Grand Ol’ Opry.” The material also mixes things up, ranging from the nineteenth century African-American spiritual “Wade in the Water” (led here by the violin of Leah Zeger) to Christian hymns “I’ll Fly Away” and “How Great Thou Art” to the traditional New Orleans funeral dirge “Just a Closer Walk with Thee” (with a terrific blues guitar solo by Nelson Blanton) to the Hebrew “Kol Dodi” and the Carter Family staple “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.” The album includes only two vocal tracks, a full gospel chorus on “Fire Shut Up in My Bones” and a reprise of “I’ll Fly Away” that complements the opening instrumental. Organist Jack Maeby’s pulled together an assortment of Los Angeles roots musicians who take these tracks to interesting new places anchored by the rock-solid soul of the Hammond. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]
September 03, 2011
December 27, 2012
"SHELTER features funky guitars, bumping drums, seductive vocals and the sweet, signature, country sound of the steel guitar to remind the listener of how truly timeless finely crafted music can be."
April 07, 2011
It's rare these days to get something unusual. The new CD from Little Faith makes the cut. It's a record of spirituals, that's no surprise. But the instrumentation -- drums, some funky guitar and a big dose of organ is, in my world, a breath of instrumental fresh air.
The ideas just keep coming. You might hear a violin, a lap steel, or a Dobro. Deeper into the record you get a soulful duet backed by a gospel choir. There's even a solo organ take on How Great Thou Art with a wild streak of improvisation through the middle. The vibe is New Orleans. In fact, it's a kind of stripped down music you would hear in a Bourbon street bar. Many of the tunes have no bass guitar -- adding to the unusual nature of the tracks.
It's a strong collection...and there's something here for almost anybody that has an interest in New Orleans music, tasty sax work, or spirituals.
March 22, 2011
Little Faith: Spirituals
November 19, 2010
A veteran of Fat ‘n’ Bad – one of the Capital Region’s all-time biggest and baddest R&B combos – Nippertown native Jack Maeby makes his home in California these days, but he’s headed back here for a homecoming show this weekend to showcase his latest band Little Faith and the music of their newly released debut CD, “Spirituals.” “I brought together a group of LA roots musicians from all sub-genres – country, gospel, bluegrass, New Orleans R&B – to record an album of traditional spirituals,” Maeby explains. “The focus is musical and not religious,” he adds. “The idea is that the spiritual songs created by African American slaves in the 19th century are the basis of what we term ‘roots music’ and ‘Americana,’ and that the roots styles grew directly out of spirituals.”
Maeby is a self-proclaimed “old-school organ player with a love of gospel music,” so naturally enough, the music here is centered around the warm, all-embracing hum of the Hammond organ. But this is definitely no ordinary organ trio, as Maeby’s soulful gospel-jazz sounds are cross-pollinated with the contributions of country-oriented guitarist-lap steel player Nelson Blanton and New Orleans-styled second-line drummer Paul Vitolins.
The album cracks open with brisk strut through “I’ll Fly Away” fueled by Vitolins’ syncopated Crescent City parade beat and some beefy, honkin’ baritone sax by guest James King. Toward the end of the disc, Little Faith revisits the tune with a more solemn, hymn-like rendition sung by Maggie Malyn – one of only two vocal selections on the disc.
Many of the tunes are familiar, tried and true spiritual standards (“Wade in the Water,” “Just a Closer Walk With Thee,” “How Great Thous Art,” “Will the Circle Be Unbroken”), although the earthy but innovative arrangements keep the music fresh and adventurous.
Elsewhere on the disc, there’s a light Caribbean sway to “Ain’t That Rockin’?,” the heartbreaking ache of Leah Zeger’s violin takes the spotlight on the Hebrew spiritual “Kol Dodi,” and vocalists Malyn and John Michael Knowles conjure up church choir fervor on “Fire Shut Up in My Bones.”
Put it all together, and Little Faith has created a mighty tasty musical gumbo. Or as Maeby explains, “Mardi Gras breaks out at a tent revival in the parking lot of the Grand Old Opry.”
March 01, 2011
Producer Jack Maeby brings a playing pedigree to the project, having honed his skills backing artists such as Carly Simon, Etta James, Dr. John, Aaron Neville, Solomon Burke, Buster Poindexter, The Chambers Brothers, Odetta, Cornell Dupree, Otis Rush, Don Covay and Otis Blackwell, to name only a few. Building that kind of resume takes up time. Jack explains “I am thankful that we got Little Faith off the ground—thankful for the folks who made the music and those who inspired it. This project has been simmering on my back burner for a few years, the product of a love of traditional spirituals, all shades of gospel music and the music native to New Orleans. Although I’m not religious or a member of any particular faith or church, I firmly believe that music at its best is communication on a spiritual level. I believe that there are universal truths in all religions that music can help reveal.” Amen to that! For more on Little Faith, check out their website littlefaithmusic.com.
November 18, 2010
March 17, 2011
IN THE GROOVE – March 17, 2011
I discovered this soul-based band, led by organist Jack Maeby (who also plays guitar, bass, percussion AND trombone) when I heard the track "Wade in the Water" on a DJ radio sampler. The rhythm, with a New Orleans drumbeat by Paul Vitolins, grabbed me and I wanted to hear more. Upon receiving - and listening a few times - to the full album (10 tracks), I was really impressed. These were mostly traditional African American spirituals played as New Orleans funky jazz or R&B. And they swung! Two of the tracks have vocals - including the second of two different versions of "I'll Fly Away" - while the rest are straight-out instrumentals. But Maeby, who formed the band and has produced albums for country stars, makes unusual use of the instruments. While the violin is not normally heard out front in church-related music, Maeby puts young Leah Zeger (listed as the youngest violinist in the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra) out there to lead off that sample track that caught my ear. Zeger's violin is also a prime component of the one Hebrew "spiritual" - Kol Dodi"- which is the only truly slow song on the album.
I'm not familiar with the song "Ain't That Rockin'?" - and the jacket does not give any composer credits - so it could be a Maeby-penned piece. Anyway, not only does he plow ahead on organ but also he plays that trombone on the same track!
Maeby's been out playing with and producing for other musicians for the last 25 years. Whatever he absorbed certainly shows in the fine new CD. Hallelujah for that!