By Bill Milkowski | Published October 2021
Philadelphia-based trumpeter Paul Giess is on a mission. As he puts it in his bio: “I use music to build community, and inspire joy and growth.” Drawing on selections from the hymnal of the non-denominational church he grew up in, Giess uplifts with a spiritual message while unleashing some potent jazz licks in the process.
His second album as a leader opens with the traditional gospel number “We’re Gonna Sit At The Welcome Table,” which carries a distinct New Orleans second line undercurrent (a by-product of his 2015 residency in the Crescent City). Philly vocalist V Shayne Frederick brings a soulful Leon Thomas-Andy Bey quality to a decidedly jazzy interpretation of “Guide My Feet,” an African American spiritual from the Reconstruction era, and also to the mellow hymn “Go Now In Peace.” Guitarist Jeff Scull is featured on the dreamy “Immortal Love,” a piece that carries a bit more edge than the others in the harmonizer effects that Giess explores on his trumpet. On the bluesy, funereal “I Walk The Unfrequented Road,” he pulls out his raucous plunger chops while Frederick channels Screaming Jay Hawkins doing “I Put A Spell On You.”
Giess acquits himself nicely with some lyrical, highly expressive trumpet work on a ’70s soul-jazz take on the Christian hymn “Abide With Me,” then digs into “Find A Stillness” (with spoken word recitation by Wadad Ahmad) with some of his brightest and boldest soloing of the set. Giess and his crew offer the hippest hymnal on this spirited outing.
Hymns Vol. 1: We’re Gonna Sit At The Welcome Table; Guide My Feet; Go Now In Peace; Immortal Love; I Walk The Unfrequented Road; Abide With Me; Find aAStillness; Go Now In Peace–Reprise. (60:98)
Personnel: Paul Giess, trumpet; V. Shayne Frederick, vocals; Jeff Scull, guitar; Erik Kramer, bass; Matt Jernigan, drums; Wadud Ahmad, spoken word (7).
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