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Reconnecting with … Take 6

  • Andy Argyrakis
  • 2009 3 Feb
Reconnecting with … Take 6

Ten time GRAMMY Award and ten time Dove Award-winning act Take 6 has never been a stranger to adding some jazzy steps into its a cappella journey throughout its 20-year stretch, though the group’s latest CD, The Standard (Heads Up), marks its first ever full-time foray into the jazz genre. The collection is loaded with choice covers that not only put a fresh spin on a slew of golden oldies, but also have a noticeable spiritual slant.

“We called the CD The Standard for several different reasons—first and foremost, the fact it features jazz standards,” shares singer Mark Kibble. “There are also some pop and gospel standards, which stay within the spirit of upholding our Christian standards and giving our best back to God.”

Besides merely re-introducing oldies like “Sweet Georgia Brown,” “Someone to Watch Over Me” and “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans” to audiences of all religious interests, songs like “Seven Steps to Heaven,” “Shall We Gather at the River” and “Grace” are sure to provide a Christian undercurrent to anyone’s listening experience. It’s no wonder the group recently scored three 2009 GRAMMY nominations that span both sacred and secular categories.

“We’re constantly amazed, and it feels just as exciting as the first time,” Kibble continues of the group’s recent nods for “Best Jazz Instrumental Solo,” “Best Gospel Performance” and “Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s).” “Every time we have a nomination or a win, it’s just a re-confirmation that our job is not yet over. We enjoy what we’re doing, but to know that other people and our peers are enjoying it as well is a high honor, and we don’t take that for granted.”

Outside of the act’s soulful harmonies throughout The Standard, the album also features a who’s who list of R&B legends, including Aaron Neville, George Benson, Al Jarreau and Brian McKnight. The latter superstar just so happens to be member Claude McKnight’s brother, and their chemistry is undeniable throughout a stunningly soulful rendition of “What’s Going On.”

But perhaps even more impressive than the aforementioned is a virtual duet with the late Ella Fitzgerald throughout “A Tisket-A Tasket.” Similar to Natalie Cole’s tag team with her departed father Nat King Cole during “Unforgettable,” the two generations of superstars blend seamlessly thanks to studio wizardry.

“We’ve always dreamt of working with Ella and almost had the chance to work directly with her live, but then she passed,” explains Kibble. “But we figured we could make it work and do what we wanted to do anyway, and it’s amazing to be on the same record with so many luminary artists we’ve admired for years.”

In addition to the changes found on Take 6’s latest CD, the group has also shuffled labels a few times in recent years. After a lengthy career with Warner Brothers, the group self-released Feels Good in 2006, followed by teaming with Heads Up for its latest endeavor. Though not nearly as prominent as its original home, the guys are perfectly content with the relationship and find it much easier than having to hold the reigns all by themselves.

“The whole industry is changing, and ending our Warner deal had a lot to do with so much of music going from physical to digital,” he candidly admits. “Everybody’s felt that pinch, especially larger labels. We had a great run, but it came to the point were we learned how to do a lot of those same tasks by ourselves. When we launched our own label with the album before the new one, we learned how hard it was to wear all the hats, and we appreciate having the help of a record company again. We’ve planned a short-term deal with Heads Up, but they’ve been wonderful and who knows the future? We’re just looking for God to lead us in the direction we need to go because we never want to be out of His will.”

As for some 2009 foreshadowing, Kibble is quick to mention a tour throughout Japan in January, followed by several U.S. dates in the spring and a summer spent in Europe. There’s also another holiday CD on the books, which the group started recording this past December for a potential release next Christmas. “There’s indeed a lot ahead of us,” he adds with a laugh. “After all this, there are plans for more CDs, and while we don’t know who’ll they’ll be under just yet, we know we’re not stopping!”

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©2009  All rights reserved.  Used with permission.

**This interview first published on February 3, 2009.