Faces Turned Towards Heaven - Star Telegram

Star Telegram
Fort Worth band takes an inspired approach to jazz...

By Malcolm Mayhew

Star-Telegram Staff Writer

There is jazz music, gospel music and, Dewayne Washington says, "jospel," his band's unique combination of the two.

He's often asked how they can do both, says Washington, leader of the Fort Worth-based, eight-piece ensemble Faces. "Jazz is a form of music. Gospel is a way of life. We intertwine the two and make music that is not traditional in any way."

They've been at it for 13 years, making a name for themselves both locally and nationally. Faces have shared the stage with top-drawer jazz/smooth jazz/gospel acts such as Norman Brown, Stanley Clark, Yolanda Adams and, among others, Gerald Albright, and have released five CDs, the most recent of which is 2003's Speak to My Heart; in May, they'll have a new CD.

Though the faces in Faces have changed over time, the core of the band -- as well as their jospel philosophy -- has remained Washington, who also plays flute, and Marcus Rockwell, a trumpet and fluegelhorn player.

The two shared similar ideas about music and faith, Washington says, and decided to work together. The other members of Faces -- saxist Ahmad Johnson, drummer Curtis Tucker, percussionist Otis "Big O" Tarkington, bassist Dale Turner and guitarist Travis Moore -- also are of like minds, theologically as well as musically.

"We all have similar backgrounds. That's why we fit together so well," says Washington, who is also one of the youth ministers at Charity Church in Fort Worth. "What you hear is a testament to our backgrounds -- straight-ahead jazz, some smooth jazz and gospel. We all grew up listening to and appreciating the same kinds of music."

There's a heavy visual aspect to their live show; it's not just eight people standing there playing music.

"It's an experience," Washington says. "Our last show was opened up by four spoken-word poets. This show, we're gonna have tap dancers; you might see poets and comedians. You might see mimes. It's never the same. We did a show once where I was holding a single note while there was a domino game going on. If I could, I'd bring an elephant onstage. We definitely give people their money's worth."


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