The Journey: Behind the Scenes
Be A Light
Street Date: February 10, 2017
2018 Grammy Nominated
Best Jazz Vocal Album for "The Journey"
Best Traditional R&B Performance for "Laugh and Move On"
Steeped in the heart and soul of jazz, Marcus and Jean Baylor’s highly anticipated collaboration showcases the grace and glory, versatility and virtuosity of a truly extraordinary musical union.
Joining Marcus and Jean on their self-produced debut is an expansive assemblage of top-notch collaborators including pianists Allyn Johnson and Shedrick Mitchell, guitarists Rayfield “Ray Ray” Holloman and Marvin Sewell, bassists Dezron Douglas, Chris Smith, David “DJ” Ginyard and Corcoran Holt, percussionists Pablo Batista and Aaron Draper, tenor saxophonists Keith Loftis and Bob Mintzer, trumpeters Freddie Hendrix and Keyon Harrold,trombonist Stafford Hunter and harpist Brandee Younger.
As the children of Pastors, Marcus and Jean’s musical roots were planted deep within the church, and it was there that the road was paved for the influence of gospel, blues, soul, and jazz to make it’s mark. On ”The Journey”, listeners are taken on a comprehensive musical journey that showcases as much versatility as it does virtuosity. A world-class drummer, Marcus’ creativity and innovative storytelling ability expose his seasoned improvisation and musicianship. Jean, with her agile mezzo-soprano range, combines a fresh, whimsical, approach to phrasing with clever musicality resulting in soul-hugging vocal purity. Released around Valentine’s Day in February, “The Journey” has as much to do with the The Baylor’s 15 years of loving one another as it does with Black History Month. Their first feature recording together embodies the true spirit of love while also paying homage to their musical roots and those of the African American experience.
“The Journey is a true reflection of our childhood, the musical and cultural influence of the African American Church, and all the things that have become a part of our creative fabric from then until now,” says Jean. As co-creators of their label Be A Light, Marcus and Jean served as the sole producers of “The Journey”. “As producers, we were involved in every aspect of the project from inception to completion,” says Marcus, adding, “…from songwriting, arranging and collaborating with great musicians to cultivate the sound we heard in our heads, we loved having the autonomy to create music from the inside out.”
Anchored by their exceptional band, The Baylor Project made their live debut in 2013 at Smoke Jazz Club to critical acclaim. Such a success, they were extended an invitation to remain in residency at Smoke for the coming year. “Performing on a regular basis not only gave us the opportunity to evolve as a band, but to build a buzz and anticipation for The Baylor Project,” says Marcus. The buzz was certainly built; word-of-mouth brought packed houses at the famed Blue Note, Apollo Music Café, and DC’s Blues Alley, leading to performances in premiere jazz festivals across the United States and Europe—a glamorous arrival for two people from humble beginnings. Marcus is a native of Ferguson, MO and Jean, a native of Moorestown, New Jersey. Both grew up in a tradition that imprinted itself upon their craft.
It is apropos that it was their craft that brought them together back in 2000. It was then that Jean was set to perform at a showcase and found herself in need of a new drummer. On a fellow musician’s referral, Marcus and Jean were connected for the first time through music. As a close friend tells the story, Marcus fell in love with her that night on stage.
With “The Journey,” the Baylor Project showcases their outstanding versatility with a dynamic collection of original compositions, newly arranged standards and reimagined hymns. “We want to inspire, foster hope and ultimately, bridge the gap between generations in our culture,” says Marcus. With “The Journey’’, The Baylor project does just that. They are relatable, they are virtuosic, and for these reasons they captivate listeners and packed houses alike. “The Journey” pays homage to their wide-ranging musical influences, and in so doing; they generate an eclectic sound whose overall effect is spiritual, buoyant, and feel good music.
"The album was born between Saturday evening in a jazz club and a Sunday morning service at the church." Read full Russian review here.
ALL ABOUT JAZZ
"This is an excellent portrait of African-American music, showcasing where it came from, and where it is now." Read full review here.
"Jean and Marcus Baylor are movements by themselves, and with the release of The Journey they'll show that they're a force when they're together." Read full feature here.
LONDON JAZZ NEWS
"...it’s a generous, charming album with a rich sound which places a marker in the sand and promises a solid future. The abiding strength of the project is its joyousness, and that counts for a lot." Read full review here.
NEW YORK TIMES
FIRST JAZZ PICK OF THE WEEK
"Jean and Marcus Baylor are a married couple whose buoyant, convivial music unites gospel, jazz and R&B." Read full feature here.
Block Party: "Marcus’s drums drive the 7:53 track to new heights of soulfulness, with Jean’s high-energy vocals propelling you into the soul-o-sphere". Read the full feature here.
"The Journey masterfully traverses through a myriad of sonic soundscapes and has that unique ability to reach out from your headphones and speakers and captivate your full attention from the first cut to the last." Read the full interview here.
The Baylor Project Talks New Album ‘The Journey,’ Marriage, Musical Roots, & More. Check out the feature here.
"In January in the midst of dozens of bands and musicians playing at New York’s astonishing Winter Jazzfest, a capacity crowd crammed into the Zinc Bar narrow space and was captivated by the husband-wife collaboration of Marcus and Jean Baylor leading a their band into a rousing and glorified set of soulful and graceful music." Read full feature here.
BEBOP SPOKEN HERE
"The aim of this innovative, collaborative project was to create spiritual, buoyant feel-good music." Full review here.
GEORGE W. HARRIS
"A great guided tour, and this family does the right narration". Read the full feature here.
"The Baylor Project harkens on jazz soul, as husband Marcus Baylor’s soft drum leads a pianist and string band while his mezzo-soprano wife Jean Baylor takes A to middle C vocal command on “Laugh And Move On”." Read the full feature here.
"The versatile drummer also shines while energizing the well-traveled “Our Love Is Here to Stay,” channeling Elvin Jones on Afro Blue, and ad-libbing on the free-form Journey.” Read full feature here.
RAUL DA GAMA
JAZZ DA GAMA
"This is a partnership built on love for each other and in such a partnership the playing crackles with drama and energy of a live performance on this magnificent debut recording together: The Journey." Read the full review here.
A. SCOTT GALLOWAY
URBAN MUSIC SCENE
"Married musicians vocalist Jean Baylor and drummer Marcus Baylor have created a captivating “project” that meets at the 3-way intersection of Jazz, Gospel and Legacy." Reda the full review here.
THE MORNING CALL
"The music heard on “The Journey” is like taking a stroll through the Baylors’ life, too. But the genres heard on the album also put different styles of music from the African-American community into conversation with one another." Read the full interview here.
ASBURY PARK PRESS
"The Journey is the Baylors’ first full collaboration together and the couple’s big tent sound, ranging from jazz to R&B to gospel, is agreeably esoteric without being obtuse. Nuanced without being fussy and a joy on many levels." Read the full feature here.