Saxophonist, composer and band leader Will Boyd pays tribute to spirituals, hymns, and freedom songs on his album, Freedom, Soul, Jazz. The project was released to coincide with Juneteenth celebrations, which are holidays observed among Black communities as a de facto independence day commemorating the abolition of slavery and a first step toward inclusion in the greater American dream. Regarding his motivation for the project, Boyd explained, “I wanted to do my part to move the movement forward,” referring to the advancement of Black people in a post slavery society. Accompanying Boyd, who contributed the majority of the woodwinds, is his wife Kelle Jolly on vocals along with an all-star group of musicians including Gregory Tardy on tenor sax, Bobby Lyle on organ and piano, Larry Vincent and David Bivens on guitar, David Becher on bass, and Kenneth Brown and Kevin Krapf on drums and percussion. The ensemble delivers incredible jazz and blues interpretations of songs affiliated with the Civil Rights Movement including “Keep Your Hand on the Plow,” “We Shall Overcome” and “Every Time I Feel the Spirit.” Two of Boyd’s originals include “August Eighth,” which is emancipation day for East Tennessee (Boyd’s current home), and “June Teenth.” Both works provide beautiful jazz illustrations of these days of observance. One can hope that Boyd’s originals become standards due to their role in recognizing these important days in history where Black people began to gain their freedom and humanity in the United States of America. As Boyd states, “Sadly there isn’t much (enough) music written to commemorate these important times in American history, and I wanted to do my part in keeping the stories alive.” Freedom, Soul, Jazz does just that, providing a new soundtrack for these African American celebrations while also re-energizing spirituals and freedom songs. ”

Bobby E. Davis Jr Black Grooves magazine February 3rd, 2020

More than one jazz artist has told me that his goal on stage is to recreate the joy and intensity of church music. Saxist and flute player Will Boyd does that in spades as he takes on the Great American Sunday Hymnal and gives it extra spiritual muscle with support from Bobby Lyle/org-p, Kelle Jolly voc-uk, Gregory Tardy/ts, Larry Vincent-David Bivens/g, David Becher/b, Kenneth Brown/dr and Kevin Krapf/perc. While most of the tunes are spirit-filled instrumentals, on a couple of tracks Jolly gets the place rolling on inspired takes of “Every Time I Feel The Spirit” as well as the strutting “Marching to Freedom Land” and closing up the service with the anthem “We Shall Overcome” accompanied by the leader’s rich soprano. The band gives a hip Crescent City beat to the fervent “…Spirit” while delving into a deep and rich modal mood for “Go Down Moses.” Boyd’s baritone sax takes you to a Memphis house of worship for “August Eighth” while his bass clarinet is a balm in Gilead for the flowing “Deep River.” Boyd brings his alto sax into a trio mode with accompaniment by Lyle on organ and Brown’s drum for a gospel beat of “Keep Your Hand On The Plow” with the whole band shuffling down the pews on June Teenth.” Stick around for the Bible study! ”

George W. Harris Jazz Weekly November 21, 2019

Recorded over two nights in August of 2017, this swinging album features Will Boyd mostly on his rich soprano and fronting a cooking team of Jonathan Scales/steelpan, Keith L. Brown/key, Jon Hamar/b, Kenneth Brown/dr, Tamara Brown/tam and Kelle Jolly/voc through a mix of originals and traditional tunes. The mix of soprano sax with steel drums makes for a rich and exotic meld of post bop and exotica, as the CTI-flavored “Waltz For Rena” has a soulful Caribbean feel, while a combination of modal and New Orleans street celebration permeates “Kumiko.” Boyd’s baritone sax gets visceral on the muscular grooves of the spiritual “Go Down Moses” while vocalist Jolly delivers bluesy tones on the shuffling “Akane Smile” and richly textured “Momma Don’t Allow.” This guy knows how to work an audience! - ”

George W. Harris Jazz Weekly August 9, 2018

WILL BOYD WILL BOYD/Live at the Red Piano Lounge: This mad sax man is much more of a blower than you might think if you just give a cursory listen to the beginning of the set and think he's just another solo show off. When the band kicks in, the kicking really begins. A cat that's firmly in the tradition and knows how to send up a joyful noise, this is a new leader to keep an ear out for. Happy, buoyant playing runs the table here and a good time will be had by all. Well done. Volume 41/Number 192 May 11, 2017 MIDWEST RECORD 830 W. Route 22 #144 Lake Zurich, IL., 60047 ”

— CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher Copyright 2018 Midwest Record

‘WILL BOYD/Freedom Jazz Soul: A mostly gospel record coming from an unexpected place, these jazzbos dress things up in secular clothes, add a few songs about fighting for freedom and wind up opening the ears to the kind of service that brings new faces into the tent. One spin through this and you'll know the real origin of the term ‘joyful noise' Well done throughout.’                                              

                                                   - CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher Copyright 2019 Midwest Record

"I find the Will Boyd recording doubly intriguing with the addition of ukulele playing vocalist, particularly since they are playing traditional songs"! ”

— Jazz Gallery 41