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Music Review: 'The Revival,' Cory Henry

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Grammy award-winning keyboardist Cory Henry has returned to his roots.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CORY HENRY: (Singing) I said, did you feel (unintelligible)?

SHAPIRO: A year-and-a-half ago, he held a special performance at Brooklyn's Greater Temple of Praise. That performance took him back to his first instrument, the Hammond B-3 organ.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

HENRY: I got the organ of my dreams. I'm a place I want to be with all the people I love. And I just want to play music. I'll be honest.

SHAPIRO: This is the story of Cory Henry's new live album "The Revival," and music commentator Michelle Mercer says he has some other big aims for the recording.

MICHELLE MERCER, BYLINE: Cory Henry started playing the Hammond B-3 organ when he was 2 - yes, really, when he was 2 - and performing in church when he was 4. It is, after all, the official church organ, a mid-century replacement for the mammoth pipe organ.

The Hammond's emotive swells involve some complex manipulation. Players create sound at the keyboards using a spaceship's worth of job draw bars, buttons and pedals. Now in his 20s, Henry can glide through just about any gospel song on the Hammond with the ease of someone taking the family car out for a Sunday drive.

(SOUNDBITE OF CORY HENRY SONG, "HE HAS MADE ME GLAD")

MERCER: Over the past decade, though, Henry's been spending a lot of Saturday nights in clubs. Besides recording and performing with a host of jazz and pop stars, he has a regular touring gig with the whip-smart party band Snarky Puppy.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

HENRY: (Singing) If you're happy and you know it, touch your neighbor.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Yes, sir.

(LAUGHTER)

HENRY: (Singing) If you're happy and you know it, touch your neighbor. If you're happy and you know it and you really want to show it, if you're happy and you know it, touch your neighbor.

MERCER: Henry named his album "Revival" for many reasons. While he's home restoring his gospel spirit, he also wants to convert the congregation to his musical world outside church. So he stretches his set list to include pop and jazz standards, like John Coltrane's "Giant Steps."

(SOUNDBITE CORY HENRY SONG, "GIANT STEPS")

MERCER: It's not new for the Hammond B-3 to bridge sacred and secular worlds, but it's to Cory Henry's credit that he cares so much about connecting those worlds for all his listeners. And it helps that his musical charisma is a match for a nearly 400 pound organ.

SHAPIRO: Michelle Mercer reviewed "The Revival" by Cory Henry. She's the author of the biography "Footprints: The Life And Music Of Wayne Shorter."

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

HENRY: Hey, I need everybody to clap their hands like this. Come on (unintelligible). If you want to dance, you can dance. Please. I might cut a step. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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