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Dwight Trible: Living Water

From his first utterance on Living Water, it’s clear that Dwight Trible is cut from the same robustly rich baritone cloth as the late Leon Thomas, minus the latter’s predilection for yodeling (it’s just as well; nobody can yodel like Thomas). Like his formidable predecessor, Trible has sung with Pharoah Sanders–and he can imbue even a grocery list with overpowering soul and poignancy. Of course, Trible has more profound matters occupying his mind. The words that emanate from his magnificent pipes carry an overwhelming sense of purity and love that most cynics–or even pragmatists–will find unpalatable. Skepticism gains no foothold in Trible’s musical worldview.

Despite the Panglossian naivete, Living Water has abundant charm. The disc impresses with deft interpretations of John Coltrane’s “Wise One” and “Africa,” Wayne Shorter’s “Footprints,” Abdullah Ibrahim’s “Ishmael” and Freddie Hubbard’s “Little Sunflower.” The album’s default mode is a mellifluous, rolling bliss that uplifts with minimal bombast, as flute and piano lead the way down the shimmering path to enlightenment. On disc closer “Peace,” Trible earnestly pleads a cappella for said condition, as if the sheer power of his voice could engineer such an impossible circumstance. Trible almost convinces you he can.

On Love Is the Answer, Trible and his Life Force Trio continue to promulgate his power-of-positive-thought message, but this time within a New Age-centric hip-hop context. Notable beatsmiths like Sa-Ra, Madlib, Daedelus and J Dilla help Life Force crew Carlos Nino and Dexter Story supply funkily feel-good backgrounds before which Trible emotes with his trademark soulful passion. More spiritually inclined underground hip-hop fans will perhaps enjoy the buttery Love Is the Answer, but jazz aficionados probably won’t have much motivation to explore it. A minute-long “cover” of “A Love Supreme”? Dwight, you tease.

Originally Published