Chicago’s Ricky Dillard has been an influential figure in the gospel choir scene since he formed the New Generation Chorale (the New G for short) in the late 1980s, and Choirmaster, his first album for Motown Gospel, is a reminder of the enduring power of his innovations. Whether the arrangements are more traditional, like the spirit-filled double-time “God’s Gonna Do It” and the eruptive ballads “Release” and “You’re the Lifter” (featuring guest vocals from TIFF JOY and Tamela Mann, respectively), or elaborate and jazzy, like the twinkling, exuberant “Since He Came” and the funky, horn-heated “He’s My Roof Top,” Dillard gets commanding, full-throated performances from his singers and zealous precision from his band. With his touch, even “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” a ubiquitous hymn of optimism dating to the ’50s, introduces the familiar melody in stately unison, but the choir's parts soon spread to bold, prismatic intervals.

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