Michael Olatuja (featuring Alicia Alatuja): Walk With Me
Walk With Me
Michael Olatuja (electric bass, acoustic bass)
Speak (Backdrop/ObliqSound OSD-CD-BD005)
Modern arrangement of traditional gospel.
Recorded: Electric Vagabond Studios, December 1, 2003 – May 1, 2004
Rating: 91/100 (learn more)
What a coincidence: this afternoon I had relocated my laptop to the three-season porch to take advantage of the quickly fading autumn sunshine. The first CD I popped into the stereo was Mahalia Jackson's Gospels, Spirituals & Hymns. Wow, what a voice. Though I did not grow up in this tradition (and I don't think my attending the Polish mass just to hear the pipe organ counts), I've spent enough time listening to various roots musics to know when something is “the real thing.”
Later in the evening, I pull the top entry off my review pile: bassist Michael Olatuja. Amazing. His modern take on the old gospel classic “Walk With Me,” featuring his wife Alicia Olatuja on vocals, has some common ground with Jackson – the subtle incorporation of many musical elements. Where Jackson brought in blues and jazz, Olatuja has funk, soul, and jazz: all in service to the tune. The more modern parts of the composition feature Olatuja's groove-laced bass work as well as Alicia's soulful vocals. But just when you think all is contemporary, the band drops into a nice & swingin' vamp that would not be out of place on a Vince Guaraldi record. Great stuff.
Something tells me I've got to try to work on that porch again tomorrow.
Reviewer: Mark Saleski