Chanda Rule + Sweet Emma Band – Hold On
PAO Records/Blu Jazz Productions
9 tracks/3 minutes
Born in Chicago, Rule makes her home between there, New York, and Vienna. After graduating from Washington DC’s Howard University, she got into musical theater in New York and toured Europe in “Hair” and then made a mark in the jazz vocal world. Her love of gospel goes deeply back to her youth and this CD of gospel and blues moves her firmly to notice in those genres. She is also . An interfaith minister and graduate of Union Theological Seminary in New York City, Rule shows us some great spiritual stuff here.
Her band is named after the Preservation Hall Jazz Band pianist Sweeet Emma. Mario Hall on trumpet, Osian Roberts on tenor sax, Paul Zauner on trombone, Jan Korinek on Hammond organ and Christian Salfellner on drums and percussion comprise the band. Zauner is also the record label owner, band leader, festival promoter and holds a major festival each year during the Christian Pentecost celebration.
The traditional “Another Man Gone” opens the CD. Simple harmonica and percussion accompany Chanda to start. The organ and band come in for a soulful and inspirational performance highlighted by Rule. “I’ll Fly Away” follows, an Albert Brumley southern gospel tune. Upbeat and jazzy, Rule sings with an airiness and lightness that is intoxicating. Another traditional cut “Rosalie (Be My Husband)” follows. Jazzy, slick and cool is the feeling here. Rule sings, the sax plays and the trumpet then plays as the organ and drums move the tune along. Next is “Motherless Chile,” a great old gospel tune. We go to church just with the organ intro and then Rule comes in and really takes us to church. Rule sings with passion and feeling and then the trumpet and organ come in for their killer solos.
“Carry It Home To Rosie” has a nice African vibe as Rule does another excellent cover of a traditional song she’s spiced up. Dissonant sounds from the horns, an intriguing beat and interesting vocals make this one cool. The title track is next, and Rule once again takes a traditional song and makes it hers. The rendition has minimal support with some organ, snare and a bit of trumpet for most of the cut. The band steps in at the end as they and Rule build up for the finish– nicely done! Next is “Sinnerman” which is another slick arrangement. The horns all play a big role as they and Chanda give us a very jazzy and cool cut to enjoy. Rule concludes with Duke Ellington’s “Come Sunday” and Rule sweetly and spiritually gives us a performance with deep feeling and solemnity. The sax solo is so restrained and nicely done in support of the emotions displayed. A somber yet powerful conclusion to a fantastic CD.
This is seminal stuff. Chanda Rule takes her showmanship, jazz and gospel background to fantastic heights here. She takes seven traditional songs and two more modern spirituals and delivers powerful message in her songs and work. Expressive vocals, cool arrangements and beautiful musicianship make this an extraordinary album. I most highly recommend it and expect to see in in the Gospel Blues Awards Categories in all upcoming blues awards. She and her band are the real deal!