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Spiritual Impressions Ensemble
As a humble connoisseur of music, my creative palette ranges from Miles Davis to Robert Johnson. With this in mind, I was excited about the opportunity to check out James Weidman and the Spiritual Impressions Ensemble. Through the years, I have become familiar with the work of Mr. Weidman, but seeing him in this capacity, with this set of musicians, intrigued my musical taste buds. With Weidman on piano, Ruth Naomi Floyd on vocals, Anthony Nelson on reeds, Harvie S on bass, and Steve Williams on drums this unit collectively presented their renditions of Slave Songs or what we might relate to as Negro Spirituals. Slated to start recording later this year, I realized upon hearing the initial notes at La Maison d’Art, that I was truly in for a delightful treat.
As Ms. Floyd belted out classics like Wade In The Water and Sometimes I feel like a Motherless Child, I was thrust into a period that sometimes gets overlooked by African-Americans in the 21st century. These songs narrate the tale of an enslaved people trying to gain freedom in a time where ignorance and poverty had become reality to most people of color. I believe that what Weidman and the ensemble gave us that night was a musical history lesson, as we celebrated Women’s History Month on March 10, 2016. This lesson has become imperative to people of color, as we celebrate the success of notables like Cam Newton and Lupita Nyong’o. I truly believe that our youth need to continually be reminded that the opportunities that they are presented with today were not always available for the American Negro. In this way, the contributions of Weidman and the ensemble provide not only a soulful sound, but also a unique reminder that we as people have come along way, yet we have a long way to go. I must admit that Weidman and the ensemble charmed my musical intellect, while feeding my soul. I recommend that our youth experience this powerful performance if ever allotted the opportunity to do so. These songs, nurtured through outstanding musicianship, provide therapy for the spirit and mind.
Be sure to check out Mr. Weidman’s latest body of work entitled October Feeling. Also check out Ruth Naomi Floyd’s latest work entitled Root To The Fruit. These musicians personify class through craftsmanship; they represent what it takes to become a stand out in ones chosen field of work. Personally I’m excited about Weidman in the ensemble preparing to record this project. Hopefully people will grasp the importance of this music and realize that our history needs to be celebrated, as we continue to make strides, in a system that is not always favorable to people of color.
Jeffrey C. Suttles is a Master of Arts candidate in Urban Studies at the Murphy Institute. He is an independent songwriter/musician who completed his undergraduate studies at The City College of New York. He is currently a CUNY CAP student who continues to pursue career opportunities in publishing, communications, and the arts.