Berks Jazz Fest 2016: The Gospel According To Jazz Celebration

Sunday night, the festival came to a close with the gospel show which was ably hosted by saxophonist Kirk Whalum, his Gospel According To Jazz Celebration featured a string of guests and his band, the lineup consisted of Kevin Turner on guitar, Marcus Finnie on drums, Braylon Lacy on bass and John Stoddart on keyboards, plus the great Doxa Gospel Ensemble giving the music a boost with their powerful voices. Kirk Whalum started the show playing solo, entering the hall from the rear and wandering around in the audience. The first guest was Jonathan Butler doing "I Am That I Am", before Kirk Whalum did his instrumental "Nannette" that featured bassist Gerald Veasley, while Kirk Whalum played his flute beautifully, followed by "Madiba", an extended instrumental that allowed the band to solo in several spots. Singer Shelea came to the stage to do a heartfelt vocal, before brother Kevin Whalum did his "Somebody Somewhere" with a sparse acoustic accompaniment and some great vocal artistry, having the audience sing along. The Doxa Gospel Ensemble was featured doing their current song "Summertime" which was very nice. Jonathan Butler did "Be Encouraged" and "I Need You Lord", with the gospel choir lifting those songs to a whole other level. John Stoddard sang the moving "My Tree" just accompanied by his piano, then special guest Donnie McClurkin came to the stage, doing his thing of preaching and singing, he did "Search Me Lord", providing a highlight together with singers Shelea and Kevin Whalum by improvising and scatting, before he did the great "We Fall Down" and "Falling In Love", wrapping up this entertaining show that has become a festival tradition.