Ben Tankard - "MERCY, MERCY, MERCY"
Review by Terrence Richburg 2009

Whenever you hear the name Ben Tankard , you immediately envision something smooth, something crisp, and something Jazz with a unique inspirational flare. Ben's latest release, Mercy, Mercy, Mercy , carefully takes the best of Smooth Jazz and Inspirational music and merges them into a perfect blend of soulful bliss and worshipful reflection. Tankard circumspectly pulls together a few of the most familiar and time-tested smooth Jazz standards, R&B hooks and powerful inspirational anthems and infuses them with heart tugging articulation and rich tonal showers. With mind-capturing innovation, Ben delivers just the right depth of harmonic flow for any occasion. Tankard's skill as a pianist and keyboardist is highlighted with tender melodies and spine-tingling solos as they win you over from the very first note. Ben masterfully weaves a web of passion and emotion to capture your musical heart. Yet Tankard doesn't leave you hanging as he serves up some juice pumping R&B Jazz fusion to get your feet tapping with infectious rhythms and strikingly tight grooves.

The exciting 12 track project Mercy, Mercy, Mercy , with a mellow yet fresh funky cover of the Joe Zawinul Jazz classic title cut, sets the mood for Ben Tankard's 20 year celebration and album dedication of his "Faith and Mercy" walk with the Lord--a successful career path of Gospel Jazz music ministry since leaving the NBA. Tankard's adaptation of the ever popular recurring hit tune is set apart from other versions as Ben's tender touch and soulful solos on Rhodes piano and other keyboard instrumentation lead you by the hand as " Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" offers just the right pace to stroll with Tankard down his faith groove boulevard. But Ben doesn't stop there as he continues to endear your soul and heart with a virtual buffet rich in sweet-to-the-ear stereo desserts and a stunning catalog of spirit-soothing songs. One after another they are served in fine fashion with such offerings as " Heavenly Vibes ," and the inspirationally infused Sade cover hit tune, " No Ordinary Love ." Tankard's arrangement of the Praise and Worship favorite, " How Great is Our God ," imparts a gently moving symphony of colors and spatial effects that transport you to the awesome depth, breadth, and height of God's presence. Ben takes great care to express a worshipful approach as he ministers the compassion-filled melody and solo improvisations. With silky-smooth transition he then moves to the warm embrace of the enchanting worship refrain, " My Lips Shall Utter Praises ," which features the co-writing talents and lead vocals of "Shelly" (Luvenia Lashelle Massey).

There are other songs on Mercy, Mercy, Mercy which bridge the gap between the worlds of Smooth Jazz, Gospel and inspirational R&B, such as Tankard's conscientious arrangement of the ever popular chart toping Emotions hit tune, " Best Of My Love ," which when originally released spent five weeks at number-one on the US pop chart in 1977. But two of my favorites on the project are the very last two tracks, " Spend Some Time" and " Love Notes From the Piano ," which seem to offer a glimpse into the artist's heart of passion for true love and genuine desire to play and minister for God.

There is so much more that could be said about Mercy, Mercy, Mercy as a CD project as a whole, such as the pristine production and the powerful melodic alluring nature of Ben Tankard's musical center. But ultimately I believe anyone who appreciates music which touches, excites and soothes the soul from top to bottom and inside out will enjoy and cherish the music ministry of Ben Tankard on this his latest project and experience his true commitment to presenting the mercy and faithfulness of God through music to the world.