Reviewed by Tony Cummings
The album title is just what you get on this R&B gospel instrumental set. Regular readers of Cross Rhythms will know that Doc is a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer who, after a career on Washington DC's go-go music scene and songwriter for acts like the O'Jays and the Whispers, had a dramatic conversion experience and now releases albums on his own IAmMusic imprint. Doc is a top rate keyboard and bass player and programmer and has been able to call on the services of some A list musos like guitarist Mike Scott (Michael Jackson, Justin Timberlake), pianist Kevin Bond (Donnie McClurkin, Kirk Franklin) and drummer Jay Williams (Jonathan Butler). So all the tracks here have super-tight R&B musicianship. Unfortunately though, they sound like what they are, backing tracks of compositions originally released in vocal versions by Pearson. And as a reviewer who once tried to listen to some of the Open Mic Karaoke EPs that dc Talk, The Katinas and others put out a few years ago, I have to state the obvious that backing tracks in themselves sound incomplete and, dare I say it, at times rather boring. So despite the delicious neo-reggae groove of "I Am That I Am" (heard in its vocal version on 2006's 'I Sing A New Song') and Kevin Bond's elegant concert grande glissandos on the slow "Togetherness" (originally on 'You And Me Time') my attention had begun to wander. I was planning to write a review suggesting that the release of 'Just The Music' was a mistake unless the good doctor knew of hundreds of aspiring R&B gospel singers who already knew his songs and were in need of a gospel karaoke album. But then came track nine, a cut called "Holy Spirit". It's as perfectly executed a piece of instrumental funk I've heard for years with Doc playing all the instruments save for some superb rhythm guitar played by Tom Crosby who, the sleeve tells me, once worked with Peaches & Herb (remember their 1978 hit "Reunited"?). My only criticism of the super funky "Holy Spirit" is that it is way too short (a mere one minute 33 seconds). As the one-time go-go veteran undoubtedly knows, you can sit on a funk riff for 20 minutes before the dancers begin to tire. Overall then, 'Just The Music' does have some merit though the old funkster writing this can't resist the musical equivalent of fantasy football and suggest that IAmMusic's next release be 'Go-Go Gospel'. Now wouldn't that be wonderful?
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