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It’s not hard to argue that one of gospel’s most influential and original contributions to the music community at large would be the artistic genius of Take 6.

For some 20 years, this all-male sextet has contributed 13 albums and an inimitable sound that has both stunned and endeared music purists across all genres. With Grammy, Stellar, and Dove awards to their credit, Claude McKnight, Mark Kibble, David Thomas, Joey Kibble, Cedric Dent, and Alvin Chea celebrate their 20th anniversary in the business with a worthy album aptly titled The Standard. Thirteen tracks deep, the fourteenth album from the group has instant vintage written all over it.

From start to finish, this album has no shortage of memorable moments. Take 6 fans will enjoy the group’s return to their acapella roots for the lion’s share of the effort.

The album is chock full of notable collaborations. From the historic partnership with Ella Fitzgerald on “A Tisket A Tasket” to the fun and contagious Nat King Cole-penned classic “Straighten Up and Fly Right” featuring George Benson, the album is wildly steeped in moments of musical genius.

Aaron Neville joins the fray on “Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans”, a surefire tribute to the city greatly impacted by Hurricane Katrina. Another incredible collaboration sees the group partner with Jon Hendricks and the jazz legend Al Jarreau on “Seven Steps To Heaven”, which also features German flugelhornist Till Bronner.

Brian McKnight joins his brother Claude and the Take 6 brotherhood on the timely acapella cover of the Marvin Gaye classic “What’s Going On”.

Take 6 continues to pull out all the stops, offering arguably some of their best vocal work in their storied career on this effort. Steeped in heavy inspiration, the group offers great encouragement with “Shall We Gather At The River” and the Quincy Jones-penned “Grace”. While the group adds musical accompaniment on tracks like “Back To You” and “Someone To Watch Over Me”, their vocal brilliance continues to shine brightly.

While Take 6 regularly exhibits vocal excellence, they have clearly raised the bar with “The Standard”, a must-have for any music purist and a certain topic of conversation for a long time to come.

Production: Mark Kibble, Claude McKnight, David Thomas, Cedric Dent, Khristian Dentley

album release date: October, 2008

Heads Up International

– reviewed by Gerard Bonner for www.gospelflava.com

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