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The Baylor Project: The Evening: Live at Apparatus (Be a Light/Motown Gospel)

A review of the husband and wife duo's album recorded at the interdisciplinary design studio in New York

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The Baylor Project: The Evening: Live at Apparatus (Be a Light/Motown Gospel)
The cover of The Evening: Live at Apparatus by the Baylor Project

For years I’ve thought that the vibrant, soulful sounds of the Baylor Project, the husband-and-wife duo of vocalist Jean and drummer Marcus Baylor, belonged in a jazz party; it turns out that designer Gabriel Hendifar agrees. He’s the co-founder and artistic director of APPARATUS, the 10-year-old interdisciplinary design studio in New York that explores the relationship of lighting, furniture, objects, and spaces. Hendifar’s latest collection, Act Four, takes its cues from the 1960s and jazz, so he created a jazz club at his space called MUMS (after the thousands of chrysanthemums that adorned it) and invited the Baylors to record their new album there. They brought their band featuring pianist Terry Brewer, saxophonist Keith Loftis, trumpeter Darren Barrett, trombonist Mark Williams, and bassist Yasushi Nakamura; invited a few dozen friends; and let the good times roll.

The Baylors’ music is contemporary but evokes the spirit of the boundary-less jazz from 60 years ago. When they play, it’s easy to imagine an era where Dave Lambert or Paul Gonsalves might drop by and sit in. Listening to the new recording, I wondered if vinyl copies of Aretha’s Columbia discs were part of the decor.

They set the mood with a loose-limbed, saucy take on the Gershwin classic “Our Love Is Here to Stay.” Then they dive into the gospel repertoire for “Lord Keep Me Day by Day.” From there, it sprawls, moving between standards and gospels held together by Jean’s lithe voice, Marcus’ drums, Brewer’s keys, and Loftis’ solid solos. Appropriately, they dedicate a tune to Hendifar, and it’s an original called “We Swing.”

Learn more about The Evening: Live at the Apparatus on Amazon and Apple Music

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