Words by Ariana Igneri

The Highline Ballroom on Thursday night felt more like a church than a concert venue, as gospel-jazz musician Cory Henry stood behind his Hammond B-3 organ like a preacher behind a pulpit.

“There’s only one rule tonight,” Henry shouted at the beginning of the show, his voice ringing with spirit and conviction. “If the music makes you feel something, do something.”

Some in the crowd cheered, some bobbed their heads and sipped their beers and others just stared in a confused kind of awe, while Henry and his band, The Funk Apostles, jammed through songs from Henry’s latest release, The Revival, as well as through a selection of jazz and pop standard classics. To accompany him and his band, Henry even brought a three-piece choir on stage for part of the concert.

Henry’s played the organ since he was just a few years old. Now, in his 20s, he commands the instrument with an almost divine understanding of its sound and its power. He’s toured with and been a disciple to a host of musical big weights, including The Roots, Bruce Springsteen and Kirk Franklin, and he even has a regular gig playing with Brooklyn’s jazz-fusion collective Snarky Puppy.

Although Henry held the audience’s attention for most of his set, the show’s energy lilted toward the end, when Henry seemed more focused on what was happening on-stage rather than off it.

No performance, however, is past the hope of redemption — Henry found his right before his encore, when he played his hit song, “NaaNaaNaa,” a soul-inspired ditty that’s less about its words (it doesn’t really have any) and more about its feel.

“This is what I sing when I want to be happy,” Henry told his congregation of concertgoers, who were dancing with each other and singing along by mid-song. “Love is the answer. You got the message?”

It seemed like they had.


TheWaster.com | NYC