SWINGING IN THE PEWS…The Eric Byrd Trio: Saints Are Still Marching

Think the music in church is boring? Things have changed since Bach’s Cantatas and “Nearer My God to Thee,” buddy!

Pianist Eric Byrd brings his trio of Bhagwan Khalsa/b and Alphonso Young Jr/dr along with first time visitors Terell Stafford/tp and Tim Warfield/sax for Sunday morning stomping versions of traditional hymns and spirituals. Pieces like the modal “Calvary” or funky “I Want Jesus To Walk With Me” can only be performed and sung by a guy like Byrd if he’s been sitting in the pews for awhile, and he sounds like he was weaned on Vacation Bible School.

A Latinized bopping take of “When The Saints” includes Warefield’s soulful tenor, and Stafford bops with delight on the gospel grooved “Ain-A Good News” while the horns testify on “Blessed Assurance.” Byrd lays down the law on a riveting “Just A Closer Walk With Thee” and the rhythm team passes the plate while Warfield’s soprano shines like a light through a stained glass window on “There’s Just Something About That Name.”

A famed skeptic was seen attending the church of Charles Spurgeon. When asked if he was interested in Christianity, he replied, “I don’t go because I believe it; I go because HE believes it.” These guys play like they believe it!


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