Liz Mc Comb
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JUNE 23, 2001

Cleveland-native LIZ MC COMB has spent the past two decades as a celebrated Paris-based expatriate, performing and recording for rapt audiences across Western Europe. Fire, her Stateside debut, makes one wonder how MC COMB, a dramatic alto and skilled pianist, has remained unknown here for so long. Dorothy Love Coates' standard "You Can't Hurry God" is equal parts swinging jazz and old-school gospel workout. "Whenever You Pray", one of MC COMB's eight captivating originals, is a smooth, soulful ballad, while "Don't Let the Devil Ride" is a blistering, bluesy rocker. MC COMB's masterful mix of R&B, jazz, and fervent gospel is stirring and surefooted enough to stand in the company of Aretha Franklin's 1972 classic, "Amazing Grace", yet unique and singularly inspired.

Living Blues

An American expatriate in Paris, LIZ MC COMB has remained true to the deep gospel roots that she formed while growing up in a Pentecostal family in Cleveland, Ohio. With a discography that lists eleven previous recordings dating back to 1987, both her singing and piano playing are fully developed and among the most impassioned to be heard in any musical genre. The playlist mixes traditional gospel fare like Don't Let The Devil Ride and Stand By Me with Dorothy Love Coates' You Can't Hurry God and eight MCCOMB originals (the thirteenth track is a shortened radio edit of 11:11 title track). Liz MC COMB's singing is " from a whisper to a scream " at its most compelling. Listen, and you will be moved.

Blues Revue

LIZ MCCOMB, daughter of Cleveland, Ohio, and resident of Paris, France, is among Europe's top gospel artists - with good reason. Her voice, a near-flawless instrument shaped early when she began singing along with Mahalia Jackson records, anchors compelling originals and arrangements of standards flavoured with elements of R&B and jazz. On her latest release, MCCOMB explores traditional gospel as well as other areas. Fire surrenders many pleasures for R&B and gospel listeners : "Whenever You Pray" and "Open Our Eyes" recall the soul stylings of Curtis Mayfield or Gladys Knight. MCCOMB cuts loose as "Don't Let The Devil Ride" rocks atop swirling organ and well-placed bluesy guitar. "The Man Upstairs" is pure jazz ; "Jesus Is A Rock" gets an impassioned, funky treatment. "You Can't Hurry God" offers the rush of sheer, house-rocking joy.
MCCOMB's more adventurous stylings may find varied reception. "Fire" has a distinctly mainstream pop cast ; it's almost Broadway-esque, particularly given its series of crescendos and false stops, which seem contrived. (At 11 - plus minutes with little linear development, "Fire" already seems overlong. The three-minute Radio Edit lays bare the song's one-trick nature.) "What Happened To The Love", a ballad, drags. At the other end of the dial, MCCOMB uses "Chant de Liberté", with its Caribbean flavor, as a platform for impressive scat singing, and "Give Him Up" alternates reggae with strutting swing.
Regardless of style, MCCOMB's piano holds together the arrangements, often as the harmonic centrepiece of a bass-and-drums trio, other times with an organ fleshing out the sound. (Only two songs employ guitarists.) The voice and message are the focus of Fire. Fans of gospel and lovers of the jazz vocal tradition will find a diversity of effective moods and styles, and all listeners will find themselves wishing for more frequent trips to American soil by MCCOMB.
-Tom Hyslop-

Liz Mc Comb

By Dave Nathan / All About

Forsaking a potentially successful career in Rhythm and Blues, Liz Mc Comb instead turned to singing Gospel and singing it with evangelical fervor. Part of the CD comes from a live performance in Paris and the rest in the Los Angeles studio. It's one of the cuts from the live performance which is a must hear. “Fire” is more than 11 minute apocalyptic forecast of what happens when the world is on fire. The tune starts out on a relatively even keel, but keeps building in intensity until the last few choruses are a Pentecostal frenzy. But this lurid forecast is balanced by songs of hope such as “Open Our Eyes” pleading to keep the faith when “The Joy of life is grey”. The “Stand by Me” on the play list is not the Ben E. King song which caught the public ear several years ago as the sound track on the movie of the same name, but the traditional version.

Although Mc Comb accompanies herself on the piano, the dominant instrument on the CD is the organ of Harold T. Johnson, as well it should be for this genre of music. The drums of Quentin Dennard are there to emphasize with rim shots the evangelical point Mc Comb is making. And what would a gospel album be without the backup hand clapping chorus which, as in a Greek play, responds to the calls made by the main singer.

Rarely will one hear anything as intense as her performance in any musical genre. If this album and Mc Comb's singing doesn't have you leaping out your chair shouting “Hallelujah”, then you are beyond redemption. Recommended. Lyrics are printed in the liner notes. Visit Mc Comb at her multi lingual Internet home at

Track listing: You Can't Hurry God; The Man Upstairs; Whenever You Pray; Give Him Up; Time Is Now; Don't Let the Devil Ride; What Happened to the Love; Fire; Open Our Eyes; Jesus Is a Rock; Stand By Me; Chant de Liberte (Song of Freedom); Fire

Personnel: Liz Mc Comb - Vocals/Piano; Harold T. Johnson - Organ/Electric Piano/Vocals; Quentin Dennard, Herve Koster, Sangoma Everett, Christophe Gailot - Drums; Leroy Ball - Acoustic Bass/Electric Bass/Vocals; Byron Moore, David Levray, Titus Williams - Bass; Tim Hearsey, Jam `Ba - Guitar; Vincent Bruley - Organ

June 11, 2001

Many in the United Sates don't know LIZ MC COMB yet, but chances are they will. For MCCOMB can pound the piano and sing the good, old gospel blues in a rootsy, old-fashioned way that should make her a household name in traditional gospel music.
The singer grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, but has spent her professional singing career - like Josephine Baker back in the 1920s - in Europe.
Now the woman known as gospel diva overseas comes homes with her debut American album, a self-titled project on Crystal Rose Records.
MCCOMB is all about being as traditional as it gets. She is a combination of solid, old-time church music that bursts with strong vocals, rockin' piano and a zest for God mixed with jazzy, lounge-style soul singer.
This album is a simple joy in its musical purity. No hype, no over-instrumentation, no slick production, just MCCOMB's smoky vocals and her snazzy tickling of the ivories.
She rocks on "Don't Let The Devil Ride" and "You Can't Hurry God", and croons her love for Jesus in the sweet, sultry "Whenever You Pray".
This lady is tops at singing the gospel blues, and "What Happened to the Love" is simply outstanding.

January 2002

Perhaps you were introduced to LIZ MC COMB - as I was - by the striking full color ads in BLUES ACCESS over the past several months and the extravagant praise heaped upon the singer's "masterful mix of R&B, jazz and fervent gospel." Then I heard an advance pressing of the new LIZ MC COMB album, Fire, and it took only one listen to make a convert out of this jaded listener.
Let me put it as simply as possible : LIZ MCCOMB is a gigantic talent, widely recognized in Europe and soon to make her mark on her homeland. A Cleveland native, she sang in church, worked as a jazz vocalist and acted in community theatre productions there before resettling in New York City and then Paris, where she's resided for many years. Her impassioned delivery of the gospel numbers in her varied concert repertoire consistently drew the strongest response from European audiences and, listening to Fire, it's easy to see why.
From the opening salvo, "You Can't Hurry God" through terrific songs like "Give Him Up", "Don't Let The Devil Ride", "Open Our Eyes" and the scorching title track, all the way to "Song of Freedom" at the end, Ms MCCOMB is in full command of her formidable voice, and the emotional force she is able to evince in her performances is stunning in its impact. The one non gospel song in the set, "What Happened to the Love", gains extra power and meaning from its setting in the center of a program of spirituals.
This is an album that bears repeated listening, and we anticipate with great relish the release of her next recording project. If you enjoy music with a whole lot of soul and old time feeling, do yourself a favor and give this CD a spin.
John Sinclair

Gospel Flava

Don't be confused. While this may be your first time hearing, or even hearing of LIZ MC COMB, it's more than a stretch to call her a new artist.
MCCOMB has been singing Gospel for decades, first in ensembles before her Ohio home crowds, then to larger audiences. She then migrated to jazz and blues and also set up home in Europe, where after some time with the quartet Psalms, as a solo artist she consistently packed halls and drew thousands to festivals.
But LIZ MCCOMB has recently returned 'home' to Gospel, with her self-titled project (subtitled "Fire") being her first home-soil release (on Crystal Rose Records' imprint, Yellow Rose). Yet it's only one of several solo project this artist has in her discography, the others being distributed overseas. With this project available in both VHS video and DVD as well, it seems that someone's sure serious about getting her know over here.
The album is fiery potpourri of MCCOMB's intense vocals, supported by the Gospel basics: piano, drums and bass. Some of the repertoire may be familiar ("Jesus Is A Rock", "You Can't Hurry God", "Stand By Me"), but with her mezzo vocals taking every phrase and fashioning it into a work of art, there's a fresh perspective to be heard from beginning to end.
Songs such as the album's centrepiece titled "Fire" (one of eight compositions written by MCCOMB, showcase her mastery of her gift.
Starting with a reflective wander of vocals and moving to improvised scatting, to full throttle, hail-down Gospel singing by the end of the eleven-minute live-recorded work, MCCOMB shows an ability to soak her sounds with intense, soul-searing delivery.
Every nuance, every syllable, every turn of phrase flickers with intense color, with MCCOMB easily moving from warmth to cool as piano, organ, rhythms and backing vocals move in solidarity underneath.
Other shining cuts are "Whenever You Pray", "Give Him Up" and "Time Is Now" which are further episodes of Gospel soul where MCCOMB obviously finds inspiration from real life situations.
But it truly doesn't stop there, the entire project is a gem. Call it a throwback to the days when Gospel was not acquainted with the synthesizer, and the rhythm track was only for techno.
This is a vocal triumph of all that continues to be best about Gospel music.
No doubt, Gospel is home for LIZ MCCOMB.

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