Heritage Blues Orchestra: Spirits Rising

Apr 12, 2012
Originally published on April 12, 2012 6:03 am

"Don't Ever Let Nobody Drag Your Spirit Down" is a vigorous mash-up of big-city blues, church spirit and modern jazz. A chugging guitar and honking harmonica set a march-like pace at the get-go, and vocalist Junior Mack begins a lyrical sermon in his warm-hearted tenor: You might slip, slide, stumble, fall by the roadside, "but don't you let nobody drag your spirit down." Four horns — tenor sax, two trumpets and trombone — add unexpected harmonies, rising and slithering like a conjurer's snake, negotiating a maze of bluesy flatted thirds and sevenths. For good measure, Mack shows off his B.B. King-like guitar chops in a solo.

The song is featured on And Still I Rise, the debut album from the Heritage Blues Orchestra, whose ambitious name reflects its intention to make up-to-the-minute music that draws upon the glorious past of African-American genres. As the title suggests, the group rises to the occasion. "Don't Ever Let Nobody Drag Your Spirit Down" walks right on up to heaven's gates.

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