The Prophet Speaks is Van Morrison's 40th studio album released via Caroline International. Van takes on a series of unarguable classics by the likes of John Lee Hooker, Sam Cooke and Solomon Burke (among others) and makes them unmistakably his own. Alongside these reinterpretations, The Prophet Speaks features six phenomenal new Van Morrison compositions.
48 years after he first made a major impression on a Dizzy Gillespie recording date, vibraphonist Milt Jackson proves that he was still at the top of his form on this CD. The straight-ahead date finds his quartet (with pianist Cedar Walton, bassist John Clayton and drummer Billy Higgins) welcoming guests Joshua Redman (whose tenor is on six of the dozen selections) and singer Joe Williams, who helps out on three songs. Redman easily fits into the role that other tenors such as Teddy Edwards and Jimmy Heath have had with Jackson, taking concise solos while allowing the great vibist to be the lead in most of the ensembles. Joe Williams is fine during his three spots, but it is the apparently ageless Milt Jackson who is the main star during this enjoyable set.
The days when we had to wait a whole year for a new Van Morrison disc seem so far in the rearview mirror as to be ancient history. The singer-songwriter, and lately master interpreter, has been cranking out product at an alarming rate. His new 40th release is his second in 2018. It comes after two others in 2017 which makes this the most productive the 73-year-old Morrison has ever been. They are long, too, over an hour each, providing bang for the buck.