In Celebration of the Human Voice - The Essential Musical Instrument
Back in 1980, Claude McKnight formed an a cappella quartet, The Gentlemen's Estate Quartet, at Oakwood College in Huntsville, Alabama, where he was a freshman. He auditioned fellow students for the hobby group. The Gentlemen were rehearsing in a campus bathroom, getting ready for a performance, when Mark Kibble walked by and heard them singing. He joined the harmonizing, adding a fifth part, and ended up singing with them onstage that very night. Mark later invited Mervyn Warren to join the group, and the sound of Take 6 was born. Although the sonic structure was now firmly in place, the name was not; the group performed under the moniker "Alliance."
The group performed in local churches and on campus over the next years, with members changing due to college's inevitable comings and goings. In 1985, the lower half of the group (bass, baritone, and second tenor) left upon graduating. At that time, Alvin Chea, Cedric Dent, and David Thomas joined.
The group was signed to Warner Brothers, Nashville in 1987, and quickly changed its name to "Take 6" after a name search revealed that "Alliance" was already being used. Their eponymous debut album, released in 1988, won them two Grammy Awards and resulted in top ten appearances on both the Billboard Contemporary Jazz and Contemporary Christian Charts. Take 6's swinging, harmony-rich gospel sound attracted a flurry of attention, and the group went on to record or appear with a number of luminaries, including Quincy Jones, Ella Fitzgerald and Stevie Wonder. In 1991 Mervyn Warren left the group to pursue a career as a producer, and Joey Kibble, Mark's younger brother, was invited to round out the vocal lineup. The group added instrumentation to their purely a cappella sound beginning with the record "So Much To Say"; "He Is Christmas," "Join The Band" and "Brothers" continued their streak of success, and Take 6 amassed a total of seven Grammys and eight Dove awards, as well as topping the Downbeat Magazine's Reader's and Critic's poll for seven years' consecutively!
Take 6's 1998 release, "So Cool," brings the group back to its a cappella origins. The group will be touring worldwide beginning in October, and will be appearing on various television entertainment programs as well as high-profile commercials ("Gatorade" with Michael Jordan, as well as others). This is the tenth anniversary of their first release, and from their modest beginnings as an a cappella gospel group to their current status as multiple Grammy Award winners, Take 6 has redefined the standards for vocal music. Indeed, the vocal group craze that's currently sweeping the R&B world was touched off in part by the revelatory emergence of Take 6 in 1988. Hot contemporary R&B acts like "Boyz II Men" and "Coming of Age" cite Take 6 as a major influence. The group themselves, never content to rest on their substantial laurels, continues to grow and evolve; one of the members even earned his Doctorate in Music! Their talent, hard work and Christian faith has earned them their place as one of the most enduring and best-loved groups in all a cappella.
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Review: As winners of 10 Grammy Awards and 10 Dove Awards, the multi-platinum selling a cappella group, Take 6, is beloved throughout the musical universe. One sees them return to their roots. As with their breakthrough debut album, Take 6, which went to #1 on the Billboard Gospel and Jazz charts simultaneously and earned a Grammy in both categories, One features Take 6's unique arrangements of some of the world's most beloved gospel classics as well as their inspiring devotional originals. Highlights include a guest appearance by Stevie Wonder on the heartfelt "Can't Imagine Love Without You," exciting originals such as "One," and "Down Here I've Done My Best" and their brilliant re-harmonizations of such classics as "What A Friend We Have In Jesus" and "Farther Along".
Songlist: Down Here I've Done My Best, One, Can't Imagine Love Without You (feat. Stevie Wonder), What A Friend We Have In Jesus, In My Heart, Noah, Allelula, Glorious Day, You're Gonna Need Him, Farther Along, Noah Reprise
I Saw Three Ships
Review: Legendary, pioneering Contemporary Christian A Cappella group Take 6 has been mixing elements of Jazz, Gospel, R&B and Doo-Wop for nearly 25 years, winning 10 Grammys, 10 Dove Awards, one Soul Train Award, and two NAACP Image Awards in the process. Claude, Mark, Joel, David, Dr. Cedric and Alvin bring us a cool 10-song collection of Christmas tunes from their childhoods: a finger-popping title tune, smooth and jazzy "The Sugar Plum Dance" (based on "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy"), a wonderfully greasy "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch," a breezy, jazzy "Sleigh Ride," a surprising, salsa-flavored "White Christmas," eggnog-smooth bluenote Jazz arrangements of "I'll Be Home For Christmas" and "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear;" a rewritten, strikingly-arranged take on "I Saw Three Ships," and a piano-accompanied "Christmas Time is Here," featuring a sweet lead by a marvelous female guest vocalist. Take 6 has delighted and amazed us through the years of their groundbreaking career, and we were very happy to receive "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" and feel that way again, listening to this finely-crafted album. It's been a long wait for a new T6 release, but this makes it all worth it!
Songlist: It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, White Christmas, Grinch Introduction/ The Grinch/ "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch", Sleigh Ride, I'll Be Home for Christmas, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, The Sugarplum Dance (Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy), I Saw Three Ships, Jingle Bells, Christmas Time Is Here
Review: All male sextet Take 6, one of the most innovative and influential Contemporary Christian a cappella groups of all time, was formed at Oakwood College in Alabama in the early 1980s. In 1988 they released "Take 6" nationally, and won Grammies for both best Jazz and best Gospel group. After 9 groundbreaking, critically acclaimed releases, this long-awaited recording, aptly named "the standard," returns to those jazz roots, covering standards like "Sweet Georgia Brown," "Straighten Up and Fly Right" (featuring George Benson), the scattish "Seven Steps to Heaven" (featuring Jon Hendricks, Al Jarreau and Till Bronner), the moody a cappella "Windmills of Your Mind," "Someone To Watch Over Me," "A Tisket A Tasket" (featuring a sample of the original recording by Ella Fitzgerald), the whimsical "Bein' Green" (with an unexpected Obama plug at the end), the a cappella "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans" (featuring Aaron Neville and some great faux horns), and a jazzy a cappella cover of Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" (featuring Brian McNight). Take 6's Contemporary Christian material is also included, the autobiographical "Back to You," a bluenote a cappella "Shall We Gather at the River" and the lovely, wordless, accompanied "Grace." Wow. This recording sets "the standard" for Vocal Jazz/Contemporary Christian CD of the year. Don't miss this one, it's a soulful treat from beginning to end!
Songlist: Sweet Georgia Brown, Straighten Up And Fly Right, Seven Steps To Heaven, Windmills Of Your Mind, Someone To Watch Over Me, Grace (pre-prise), Back To You, A Tisket A Tasket, Bein' Green, Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans, What's Going On, Shall We Gather At The River, Grace
Review: Formed at Alabama's Oakwood College in the early 1980s, Mark and Joey Kibble, Cedric Dent, Alvin Chea, David Thomas and Claude McKnight were signed by Reprise and released "Take 6" nationally in 1988. That year they blew away the '88 Grammy show audience with "Spread Love," and incredibly won Grammies for both best Jazz and best Gospel group. On their way to "Feels Good," their 12th CD, the versatile sextet has broken down barriers between the musical genres of Jazz, Gospel and Soul and built a massive, broad-based group of devoted fans. An accompanied album, "Join the Band" and 1997's "Brothers" both won Grammies. After 20 years with Warner Bros., their final release was "Beautiful World," an album of accompanied re-interpreted pop/soul classics. But in 2006 the group returned to their a cappella and gospel (at least in subject matter) roots with the release of "Feels Good," forming their own label, "Take 6 Records," in the process. The group is poised, tight and energized, breezing through their strongest set, of mostly original material, since their first head-turning releases in 1988 and 1990. Thomas's joyous "Come On" sets the tone, and Mark Kibble's title tune, Dent and Kibble's "Family of Love," the powerful, profound "Lamb of God," the smooth, rhythmic "More Than Ever," the surprising, re-invented cover of "Just In Time," and McKnight's R&B/Pop gem "Set U Free" keeps the party going. The usual perfect harmonies, strong group songwriting (and outside song selection) and arrangements, and Take 6's return to that good old a cappella all left us with a big smile on our face, like we got when we first heard "Spread Love" back in '88. Welcome back, guys, and bless you!
Songlist: Come On, This Is Another Day, Feels Good, Wait For The Sunshine, Family of Love, More Than Ever, Set U Free, Vinterlude, Just In Time, Lamb Of God, I'll Never Turn Back No More, You Can Make It - Go On
Review: Its a beautiful world according to Take 6 and a beautiful body of work for their fans across the board. The 10th offering from the sextet is simply called 'Beautiful World'. Although accompanied by instruments played by the six members themselves, the vocal arrangement shine through like the earlier material that originally gave the group their offical stamp in a cappella. Unlike their last studio CD 'So Cool' which was all original material, this entire project is comprised of Pop, R&B, and gospel standards. 'Wade in the Water' and 'Peace in the Valley' are gospel gems reminiscent of 'Get Away Jordan' and 'Mary dont you Weep'. 'People Get Ready' (Curtis Mayfield) with soaring heights and winding riffs takes you for a whole new ride. 'Lovely Day' (Bill Withers) and 'Loves in Need' (Stevie Wonder) are instantly recognizable, but revamped rethoughtand rearranged in a way that only Take 6 can do. Our favorite is the thought provoking 'Fragile' (Sting) where the haunting melody is kept over lush and thick harmonies you expect to hear from Take 6. Dont be surprised if the 13 new songs from 'Beautiful World' make you a fan all over again.
Songlist: Takin' It To The Street, People Get Ready, Grandma's Hands, Love's In Need Of Love Today, Beautiful World, Don't Give Up, Wade in The Water, Someday We'll All Be Free, Everlasting, Fragile, Peace In The Valley, Street Jam, Lovely Day
Review: The influence of the Christian Contemporary group Take 6 cannot be overstated. They, in turn, cite as one their own inspirations Gene Puerling of the Singers Unlimited. Their pedigree is such that the members of this stellar sextet have graced the recordings of many chart-topping artists and movie soundtracks as well (one track, 'Setembro,' is from 'Boyz In The Hood'). Two songs from this collection, 'The Best Stuff In The World Today Cafe,' and 'One And The Same,' have never been released before. Many of the cuts are percussion accompanied, though several are purely a cappella; regardless, if only to hear the pristine voices and the impeccably constructed harmonic voicings, repeated listening is advised. Stylistically, the group has a gospel/funk flavor with a jazzy overtone, courtesy of the signature chords that have become associated with the Take 6 sound. A excellent gift and introduction to the group, with enough new material to satisfy the appetite of the seasoned aficionado.
Songlist: I L-O-V-E-U, Destiny, One and the Same, Fly Away, Mary, Biggest Part of Me, The Best Stuff in the World Today Cafe, Setembro (Brazilian wedding song), A Quiet Place, Oh Thou that Tellest Good Tidings to Zion, U Turn, Spread Love, So Much 2 Say
Review: In the fullness of a fabulously successful recording career it is axiomatic that the artists may do whatever they please to enhance their self-expression. Therefore it would be wrong of this reviewer to bemoan the orchestration of one of the finest a cappella groups who ever harmonized (moan). There, that's out of my system. This is still an important album to those of us who have all their prior and subsequent releases. Vocally, the individual voices of whomever happens to be the lead singer at the moment is more prominent than on the pure a cappella releases and it is thereby fascinating to hear very clearly the beauty of the individual voices. A note of interest is that six of the ten songs have all the instrumentation played by Brian McKnight, no doubt the brother of singer Claude V. McKnight III.
Songlist: Sing A Song, You Don't Have To Be afraid, I'll Be There, Delilah, Chance of a Lifetime, Can't Stop Thinking 'Bout You, Jesus Makes Me Happy, We Don't Have To Cry, Do Right, Don't Let Go
Review: Contemporary Christian group Take 6 are virtuoso singers with a flawless grasp of harmonic theory. This vocabulary enables them to create arrangements that are resplendent with original ideas, though built on an unassailable foundation. 'Silent Night' is a haunting mysterious dance with the familiar melody line, a departure point for the jazz chord voicings that are essential imagery of Take 6. The group's own 'Oh!, He Is Christmas' is a sophisticated soul didactic. 'Away In A Manger' is rooted in a repeating bass part - the breath of the tune - while the lead is freed up to explore every vocal contour. 'Amen' is a smooth gospel-go-round, joyous and bright. If you want uniquely brilliant interpretations of your Christmas favorites, this is the CD for you.
Songlist: Silent Night, Oh! He Is Christmas, Hark! The Herald The Angels Sing, Away In The Manger, Amen!, The Little Drummer Boy, 'Twas Da Nite, Sweet Little Jesus Boy, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, O Come All Ye Faithful
A Quiet Place
Review: Not just a cappella fans but the whole musical world perked up their ears when six young singers transformed the gospel world with their jazz arrangements. The beautiful harmonies and sophisticated arrangements immediately set a standard which has been endlessly copied ever since. Within a single song can frequently be found elements of jazz, soul, rock and R&B on a gospel base. It is no wonder that these singers were tapped to be the winners of two Grammy Awards for their first recording! It is a must for any a cappella collection! Remember this was 1988 and they set the standard by which other great harmony groups such as Boyz II Men were measured and continue to be so judged.
Songlist: Gold Mine, Spread Love, If We Never Needed The Lord Before (We Sure Do Need Him Now), A Quiet Place, Mary, David And Goliath, Get Away, Jordan, He Never Sleeps, Milky-White Way, Let The Words
Review: One of the most well known A Cappella groups of today, Take 6 continues to amaze us with their beautiful and unique arrangements. 'A Take 6 Christmas' is an exciting medley of classic Christmas carols, including "Silent Night," "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing," "Sweet Little Jesus Boy," and "O Come, All Ye Faithful," as recorded on the He Is Christmas album. In 'A Quiet Place,' the guys take this subtle hymn and turn into a triumphant, yet soothing, gem with lush harmonies and lots of heart.
Songlist: Silent Night (medley), Hark! The Herald Angels Sing (medley), Sweet Little Jesus Boy (medley), O Come, All Ye Faithful (medley)