The Word – an improvisational gospel-jazz supergroup featuring pedal-steel guitarist Robert Randolph, keyboardist John Medeski and all three North Mississippi Allstars (guitarist Luther Dickinson, drummer Cody Dickinson and bassist Chris Chew) – will release their second studio album, Soul Food, on May 5th via Vanguard Records. The 12-track LP is the band’s first new recording since their acclaimed self-titled 2001 debut.
Soul Food began life in the summer of 2014, with the quintet recording successful sessions in New York. The band then relocated that fall to Willie Mitchell’s famed Memphis studio, Royal, previously used by legends like Al Green, Ike and Tina Turner and Chuck Berry.
“The recording locations of New York City and Memphis represent who the Word is,” Dickinson said in a statement. “The spirit of each city, different though they might be, each sets us free. And 14 years after our first album, it is so thrilling to hear what our collective power for improvisation has become. We’re ready to go anywhere the inspiration takes us.”
Soul Food‘s final tracklist has not yet been finalized, but the album will feature guest vocalists Amy Helm and Ruthie Foster on two songs. Fans can check the Word’s Facebook page for future updates.
The band’s genre-splicing instrumental dexterity is on full display in the below album teaser, which features in-studio video snippets and 30 seconds of exuberant gospel-jazz boogie.
The Word formed in 2000, bonding over their mutual love for Sacred Steel, a tradition of gospel music that originated in African-American Pentecostal churches in the early 20th century. In the 14 years since their first LP, all five members have remained busy with respective projects outside of the band – but they’ve united for sporadic live shows, including high-profile performances at the Bonnaroo festival in 2005 and 2012.