Cory Henry – The Revival Project concert review

Cory Henry is an American organist and pianist. He has toured extensively with grammy award-winning band Snarky Puppy, and has worked with a number of high-profile musicians such as Kenny Garrett, Robert Glasper and The Roots. He is currently working on solo projects, and touring with The Revival Project around the UK. I saw his concert in Bristol at Colston Hall on the 18th May, 2016.

The concert featured Cory Henry on Hammond organ accompanied by Taron Lockett on drums. There was also a guest feature from his ‘Funk Apostles’ guitarist Andrew Bailie. The whole concert felt improvised, like a jam session. I would imagine that the result of each night of this tour is completely different – Cory and Taron fed off each other and there was an air of possibility throughout the room.

Cory Henry opened the show commenting that the music he was going to play had no genre, and invited us to listen with open ears, and not categorise his music. And that’s exactly what we did. Although online reviews name The Revival Project a blend of gospel, jazz and soul, I would argue that Cory blends and twists these genres to the extent that his music transcends boundaries, never sticking with one style.

His organ skills were showcased throughout the performance, as expected, travelling from virtuosic passages to funky grooves. However, perhaps his most unexpected talent was also displayed – his singing. Cory had a remarkable voice that would rival many singers today, and just as he explained previously in the show, had a genre-defying tone.

Cory displayed an eclectic musical taste throughout the show. He played his own composition ‘NaaNaaNaa’ (which was requested as an encore by the keen crowd), and often played funky jams that would turn into recognisable tunes (the bass line for ‘I Wish’ was teased for quite a while before going into the Stevie Wonder number). His rendition of Chick Corea’s ‘Spain’ was also great, displaying his playful, soulful but also technical prowess on his instrument. Not once keeping to one genre, Cory really pushed the limits during this concert.

As well as being musically talented, Cory had a great stage presence. He chatted with us throughout, and at one point urged us to support artists by buying their albums. He explained how online streaming does not help emerging artists, and made an interesting point that we pay for the clothes that we wear but not the music we listen to.

The star of the show for me was his final number – the Beatles’ Yesterday. Stripped down to just Cory, he exposed his voice in an intimate setting, and accompanied himself on the organ. It was an expressive performance steeped with emotion, and this was echoed throughout the audience as the whole crowd stood and watched him in silence – for around 12 minutes.

Here’s a link to watch ‘Yesterday’ (minus the singing) – although if you want to agree with Cory’s ethos – then go and buy the CD, you won’t be disappointed.

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