” data-original-title=”” title=””>Christian McBride and his band Inside Straight, the inimitable
” data-original-title=”” title=””>Ron Carter and his trio,
” data-original-title=”” title=””>Cindy Blackman-Santana,
Mambo Legends Orchestra
” data-original-title=”” title=””>Mambo Legends Orchestra,
” data-original-title=”” title=””>Emmet Cohenand DC’s own ” data-original-title=”” title=””>Donvonte McCoy,
” data-original-title=”” title=””>Marc Cary featuring
” data-original-title=”” title=””>Kris Funnand
voice / vocals
” data-original-title=”” title=””>Heidi Martin are just a few of the performers who had The Wharf jumping this Labor Day weekend.
On Saturday, September 3, 2022, husband and wife duo Marcus and Jean Baylor brought their multi-award winning
The Baylor Project
” data-original-title=”” title=””>The Baylor Project to the Wharf’s Transit Pier stage for a great night of music. The band, which included pianist ” data-original-title=”” title=””>Terry Brewertrumpeter
” data-original-title=”” title=””>Freddie Hendrixsaxophonist ” data-original-title=”” title=””>Keith Loftis and bassist
” data-original-title=”” title=””>Richie Goodsin addition to Marcus on drums and Jean on vocals, performed music from The Baylors’ newest recording The Evening: Live at Apparatus (Be A Light, 2022) in front of a capacity crowd.
With Jean’s stunning beauty and powerhouse vocals and Marcus’s charm, careful leadership and an efficient personality as the icing on a delicious cake, what’s most engaging about the Baylor Project’s performance was the palpable joy that emanated from the stage and the infectious quality it had on those blessed enough to bear witness.
Their performance of “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” was singularly the most exquisite piece of music played all weekend. Opened with a brief, but gospel-tinged piano intro that melded with rhythmic sax and trumpet, the song felt as funky and neo-soulish as something from the
” data-original-title=”” title=””>Robert Glasper Black Radio series or the late
1969 – 2018
” data-original-title=”” title=””>Roy Hargrove‘s RH Factor, but with a little more elegance. That elegance was part and parcel of Jean’s contribution on vocals. Her sweet soprano is understated, but deliberate. As she sang, “Great is thy faithfulness/oh God my father… thou changest not, thy compassions/they fall not/as thou hast been/thou forever will be,” it was as though she was acknowledging/sharing the gloriousness of freedom and favor.
That freedom colors how the Baylors approach the music; melding the soul of gospel with the warmth of R&B and the innovation of jazz, their music is not what anyone thinks it should be, but it’s every bit of who they are. The favor, well, that’s a gift. On “Tenderly” Brewer accompanied Jean as she vocally demonstrated what it means to interpret a lyric. It’s easy. She doesn’t try too hard and neither does Brewer. Her articulation and phrasing along with Brewer’s soft touch on piano created a delicateness that sounded both tender and sweet, just as was intended. Eventually Marcus joined in with Goods and Loftis not far behind following Jean’s lead every step of the way. What they created together was a sound that was equal parts classic and new. Jean brought the moment back to the spirit with a beautiful version of “Hallelujah” that again featured accompaniment by Brewer. Jean took liberties to flex her vocal chops and it was a great thing that she did.
Though she is the voice of the Baylor Project, it’s easy for Jean’s talent to be taken for granted for the sake of the whole. When she steps to the front of the stage, flat-footed with arms outstretched wide, however, one of the best voices in jazz music today rings out. What she can do with a lyric, the control she has over her instrument, her generosity and thoughtfulness is the stuff legends are made of.
The Baylor Project is not Jean Baylor alone. Marcus’s vision for his wife, their collective artist, and their ability to create from a place of authenticity was a risk well worth taking. Brewer, Loftis, Hendrix, and Goods offered excellent accompaniment that may have delivered something different with another group of guys. On that day and in that hour, those musicians were just what the evening and the music called for: they were everything. Let the church say, Amen!
FOR THE LOVE OF JAZZ
Since 1995, shortly after the dawn of the internet, All About Jazz has been a champion of jazz, supporting it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. All About Jazz’s enduring commitment has made it one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.
WE NEED YOUR HELP
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we’ll immediately hide those pesky Google ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, but it will also allow us to rigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.