Using the exceptional accapella skills that first catapulted them to international fame twenty years ago, Take 6 are at their inimitable best with brilliant harmonies on this latest release, their first through Concord-owned Heads Up International.
Produced by group member Mark Kibble and co-produced by other members of the team, "The Standard" wisely focuses on time-honored tunes like "Sweet Georgia Brown" and "Straighten Up And Fly Right" (a particular standout). The Miles Davis classic is a special treat thanks to the inclusion of special guests Al Jarreau and Jon Hendricks (who wrote the lyrics) of Lambert, Hendricks & Ross fame. Never an easy song to interpret, "Windmills Of Your Mind" showcases the group's long-appreciated ability to simulate various musical instruments; while "Someone To Watch Over Me," with female vocalist Shelea Frazier has a decidedly soulful flavor. Quincy Jones' "Grace" is classic Take 6; the original "Back To You" is a strong R&B-oriented cut; and Ella Fitzgerald's "A Tisket A Tasket" (which features a sample of Ella herself) is a jazz treat. The group also provides exquisite backup for Crescent City native Aaron Neville on "Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans" and about the only disappointment is a version of Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" which just doesn't fit the overall concept of the album.
Unquestionably, this is one of the group's best albums in many years and for those who were first enthralled by the distinctive vocal sound that is the core of Take 6's artistry, "The Standard" is a must have.