Jonny Whiteside (LA Weekly)

"Gospel sensations LITTLE FAITH burn rubber on your immortal soul. The group's mix of syncopated spirit and second line soul-saving makes for a penetrating, utterly unusual and wildly enjoyable musical experience. Anchored by keyboard master JACK MAEBY, Little Faith's Crescent City cool, first-rate musicianship and crafty song selection assure a dose of deep-scouring, soul-stirring Gospel joy-spreading that'll knock you down on your prayer bones and leave you speaking in tongues."

IE Weekly

"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."

Southland Serenade

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.

Hyperbolium


Little Faith: Spirituals

Hammond organ spirituals flavored with sounds of Nashville and New Orleans

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]

Nippertown.com

 

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.”

Jack Maeby and Little Faith showcase the tunes from “Little Faith” with a performance and CD release party at the Bayou Cafe in Albany at 8pm on Saturday night. Admission is free.

 

The Alternate Root

Songs of reverence take a secular walk on the recent Little Faith release, ‘Spirituals’. A second line strolls on album opener “I’ll Fly Away” pushes things off, challenging the traditions of the originals to take themselves out of the churches and into the streets. Big fat soul organ chords bed down with a syncopated jazz beat on “Wade Little Faithin the Water” as a rock violin serenades. That mix and match, cut and paste style is what steers ‘Spirituals’. Core members jack Maeby (keyboards, production), Paul Violins (drums) and Nelson Blanton (dobro, lap steel, guitar) are joined by saxophones, violin mandolin and voices both solo and in choir harmony.

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.

Metroland

 

ROUGH MIX

GOSPEL GUMBO Producer and musician Jack Maeby left Albany 25 years ago to pursue his career in New York City and, now, Los Angeles. But he’s returning to the Capital Region this weekend to celebrate the release of Spirituals, the new record by his latest band, Little Faith. The project seeks to connect the African-American spirituals of the 1800s with 20th-century “Americana” sounds like bluegrass and New Orleans R&B. A host of excellent musicians played on the album, but Maeby’s top-flight organ playing is at the center of it all. Over the years Maeby has played alongside and/or produced everyone from Carly Simon to the late, great Solomon Burke; he’ll lead Little Faith into the Bayou Cafe in Albany on Saturday. More info at jackmaeby.com.

—John Brodeur

Let us know about local-music news and happenings for inclusion in Rough Mix: E-mail tips and information to tigerpop1@yahoo.com or metroland@metroland.net.

In the Groove

 

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!

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"

Pasadena Weekly

It’s rare that you see an ensemble like Little Faith on local club stages. A dynamic gospel band deeply informed by R&B, their sights are obviously set far beyond bar crowds as they mount slick shows whose energy and highly styled presentation are more often witnessed in casino stage shows than church pews. They offer legitimate cause for celebration in organist Jack Maeby’s dominant B3 grooves and the way three powerful voices can supportively differ yet blend.

 

Those three voices belong to seasoned performers Nadia Christine Duggin, John Michael Knowles and Ray Wolffe, solidly backed by guitarist Nelson Blanton and drummer Jesper Kristensen. After a lengthy incubation period at Viva Cantina in Burbank, developing a repertoire and shuffling players, they started recording and playing other clubs as well as festival gigs and the occasional church concert.

 

Their set lists rely heavily on standards like “John the Revelator” and “I’ll Fly Away,” but they also display savvy taste in contemporary songs that straddle the line between uplifting secular and gospel, like Buddy & Julie Miller’s “Shelter Me” and the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter.” The difference between the original and Little Faith’s version of “Gimme Shelter,” the centerpiece of their 2012 album “Shelter,” is emblematic of how they approach material. The Stones emphasize the escalating tension between Keith Richards’ guitar and vocalist Merry Clayton, howling as though her life depended on it. Little Faith shift the beat and reinvent the song, peeling back layers of instrumentation at the final chorus, allowing Duggin’s rafter-grazing soprano to lead an expanding choir of voices as the band slowly rejoins them en route to a rollicking finish. Their arrangement of Sly Stone’s “Stand” brings in pedal steel and harmonica and slows down the original’s funky rhythm to a more swaying pace that highlights the empowering lyric.

 

They’ll be playing a half-hour set Saturday night at Old Towne Pub, as part of YoubloomLA, an international festival/conference that is hosting more than 60 acts Thursday through Saturday at Old Towne Pub, Griffins of Kinsale in South Pasadena, Café Nela in northeast LA, La Cuevita in Downtown LA and the Highland Park Ebell Club in Highland Park. To learn more about the festival, visit youbloomla.com. To get a taste of Little Faith, be sure to squeeze into the Pub Saturday night.

 

Little Faith hits the stage at Old Towne Pub, 22 E. Holly St., Old Town Pasadena, 10:30 p.m. Saturday; Shotgun Break, Mayfield, Danny and the Tramp, Akaba and Animato are also on the bill that night. Venue info: (626) 577-6583. littlefaithmusic.com