Devoe Street Baptist Church in Brooklyn may be the only African-American church in America with a major Italian-American jazz pianist for a choir director. Joyful! documents a live concert from October 2005. The Devoe Street Baptist Church choir and a jazz ensemble perform original music by choir director Pete Malinverni, with texts taken from the Psalms of David.
It is unusual to hear genuine gospel and burning bebop integrated, and revelatory to hear how naturally they enhance and deepen one another. It is one thing to hear a gospel choir whoop and holler “Make a Joyful Noise.” It’s quite another when the trumpet of Joe Magnarelli and the alto saxophone of Steve Wilson come riding into their midst on chariots of fire, and for all to wail together, obeying one of the lines of the psalm: “Make a loud noise!”
“Whither Shall I Run?” undulates over an irresistible vamp and launches inspired solos by Malinverni, Magnarelli and Jody Sandhaus, whose pure soprano soars around and through the choir’s quietly massive counterpoint.
By marketing this album (which will include a companion DVD) online through ArtistShare.com, Malinverni hopes to reach beyond the usual jazz audience. This music of universal spiritual celebration can be enjoyed by anyone with a pulse and a soul. But it will be a real mind-blower to people who love gospel and don’t think they like jazz.