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Fred Martin & The Levite Camp: Some Bridges

The title of the CD comes from its attempt to build a “bridge” between gospel, blues, jazz, soul and rock. Jazz is closely tied to all of those genres, of course, but the bridge here overwhelmingly leads to blues and gospel. The title comes from a Jackson Browne song, which is important since Browne co-produced the CD with Martin. They are close friends and Browne’s name certainly would have helped give the CD more exposure if it was listed on the front cover. Jackson, in addition to co-producing, wrote six of the CD’s songs and sings lead on two of them, “World in Motion” and “Don’t You Want to Be There.” Hardcore Browne fans will know that those two tunes, the cover title and the three others-“The Next Voice You Hear,” “About My Imagination” and “Lives in the Balance”-have appeared on Browne’s past CDs.

Even with Browne’s influence, this is assuredly a project claimed by Martin, a respected music teacher and gospel-music historian in Los Angeles. The Levite Camp, named for one of the 12 tribes of Israel, is a choir led by Martin protégés and vocalist Chavonne Morris and Alethea Mills, who put the “g” in gospel during their interpretations of Browne’s songs and two Martin originals.

Guests include trumpeter Hugh Masekela and soulful vocalist Keb’ Mo’, who puts energy into a melding of blues and gospel with “Crossroads/Until I Found the Lord,” by Robert Johnson and Walter Hawkins, respectively.

Originally Published