Album Review: Cory Henry - "The Revival"

March 18, 2016

Cory Henry
The Revival
Universal Classics

The truly joyful noise of Cory Henry’s B-3 needs almost no accompaniment on this live solo album of gospel, jazz, and R&B classics, which were recorded and filmed with an audience at the Greater Temple of Praise in Brooklyn, N.Y.

As a member of Snarky Puppy and an in-demand sideman, Henry plays any number keyboards, but the B-3 was his first instrument, and these performances display his great love of the mighty organ. By turns soulful, church-y, playful, restrained, and virtuosic, Henry takes full possession of well-loved songs, beginning with gospel tunes including “He Has Made Me Glad” and “Precious Lord,” and then he is joined by vocalist Jeffrey White on “Old Rugged Cross.” In this context, Henry's version of "If You're Happy and You Know It" takes on a gospel quality, as well, though he adds the irreverent line, "If you're happy and you know it, touch your neighbor."

Secular songs range from Coltrane's "Giant Steps" to The Beatles' "Yesterday" to Stevie Wonder's "All in Love Is Fair," but we can't stress enough how much Henry makes these songs his own. The very nature of the instrumentation—with mostly just B-3 and a little percussion on each song—takes each tune to a different place from the start, but Henry's arrangements masterfully bend the air and the percussive and harmonic qualities of the instrument in beautiful and eye-opening ways.

And if you want to see how far back Henry's love of the Hammond goes, check him out as age four, at the beginning of a very enjoyable documentary about his career: Gotcha Now.

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