Saxophonist Merlon Devine offers a smooth and palatable blend of praise, worship, and jazz songs on his latest independent release, “Set the Atmosphere: Volume 1.” The new CD is his fifth project released on his self-owned independent label, Devine Music Group. This project is a follow-up to his highly popular “Breathe” CD, but offers a different approach on song selections and production.
“This is the first time that I have done as many cover songs,” says Devine, speaking of the remakes that he did of the popular “Come, Now is the Time to Worship”, Shekinah Glory’s “Yes”, and Fred Hammond’s worship classic, “Draw Nigh”, just to name a few. “I really took the time to choose songs that ministered to me personally so that I could communicate them effectively to my listeners.” The effectiveness is apparent as his heartfelt expression of his love for God flows seamlessly from the CD into the ears and hearts of the listener.
Devine’s signature soulful jazz sound and excellent production on this CD assists in a delectable combination of various sounds and moods that lead you into the presence of God. The production can be credited to up and coming producer and artist Tyrone Powell of Innerman Sound. “Tyrone has had much radio airplay with his own project, and the production that he has done for other artists in the DC Metro area seems to be radio favorites. He and I met while we were both on our instruments at a prophetic conference. Before we even knew each other’s names, we had the opportunity to flow together in the Spirit on some songs. We mutually sensed God’s anointing upon one another and a bond was formed under those circumstances,” said Devine. This kingdom connection fostered an exceptional ease in the studio. “He was able to take my song ideas and concepts and turn them into beautiful works of art. I also allowed him to introduce me to some new concepts and edgy sounds to just slightly push the envelope on what people may expect from me or any Christian Saxophonist.”
“Set the Atmosphere: Volume 1” does not depart from Devine’s convictions about Christian saxophonists recording original songs. “I believe the anointing is upon the vessel and not the song,” he states adamantly, “so why limit myself only to familiar songs when God is always introducing new songs to me?” Songs such as the title track “Set the Atmosphere”, the catchy “New Mercies”, and the smooth jazz tinged “Arise” prove that to be so. Devine’s original mission was to do a classic “praise & worship” project; however, the direction changed throughout the process. “We ended up with a blend of jazz, praise, and worship.” he states. “I realize that worship has more to do with my lifestyle and relationship with God than it does with a song title. I am extremely comfortable in my own skin, so I had to yield to the sound that God was channeling through me at the time. I believe it will minister to the multitudes—both saved, unsaved, Black, White, Hispanic, old and young, etc. I am amazed at the vastness of my fans. I can play a song like ‘Change’ and, literally, elderly ladies will come to my product table looking for that song. I could not purposely set out to reach all those types of people. I just obey God and it works! I think people just connect with genuine people.”
Set the Atmosphere: Volume 1 is certainly a project worth connecting with!