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Jeff Muller: Jeff Muller presents Jes Grew

Already sitting on this critic’s list for the top albums of the year is Jeff Muller presents Jes Grew, a masterfully crafted tribute to deep roots soul which interweaves New Orleans traditional styles, R&B, jazz, funk, classical and African elements in an ecstatic celebration of life. Guitarist and writer Jeff Muller has brought together a top-notch group of over 20 mostly New Orleans & Nashville-based performers (not including a gospel choir) for the project, whose songs comprise a loving look at the elements of “home,” from the comforting to the frightening. Musical stops along this journey include the growling, soulful, “Groove is the Healer,” rendered a funky gumbo by Muller’s wah guitar and powerful vocals by Mary Ann Redmond, Michael McHenry and Tommy Lepson, and the African textured, rich acoustic folk song “Man in the Rain.” “Carolina Whisper” is a lovely, wistful ballad of remembrance built on a small jazzy combo and haunted tenor sax, and “Maman Marie” is a dark lover’s plea to a voodoo priestess, marked by mysterious organ tones, and augmented by a sweeping, mournful string refrain. The over-riding themes running through these tales are of living in harmony and celebrating our roots. These themes are played out in musical detail and inspirational lyrics which prove impossible to resist.

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