There's one thing Take 6 wants to make absolutely clear about its first new studio album in four years: It's not a comeback.

There's one thing Take 6 wants to make absolutely clear about its first new studio album in four years: It's not a comeback.

"We don't look at it as if we've gone anywhere," group member David Thomas says. "We've just been busy. Over the last four years, we've been touring and working with other artists like the Backstreet Boys, so it took time to put this album together. Due to our creative style of singing, it takes more time to do what we need to do in order to record an album."

The album he's referring to is "Beautiful World," the May 21 Warner Bros. Records release that represents the Grammy Award-winning sextet's 10th project. The 13-track set, co-produced by the group with fellow Grammy Award-winning artist/producer Marcus Miller, arrives a month earlier (April 23) in Japan.

Once again, the group's a cappella harmonies take center stage, but this time with a twist: instrumental accompaniment.

"Marcus is extremely creative and not formula-driven," notes Thomas, who along with Claude McKnight, Alvin Chea, Cedric Dent, and brothers Mark and Joey Kibble, constitute Take 6, established in 1985 at Oakwood College in Huntsville, Ala.

Thomas adds, "Marcus was able to properly incorporate instruments with our vocals, complementing our songs. Given our style, that's generally hard to do."

The resulting vocal and instrumental pairing richly colors a canvas of classic R&B, gospel, pop, and rock tunes. The selections encompass music from Bill Withers ("Lovely Day," "Grandma's Hands"), Stevie Wonder ("Love's in Need of Love Today," performed on last year's multi-network broadcast America: A Tribute to Heroes), the Impressions ("People Get Ready"), and Donny Hathaway ("Someday We'll All Be Free," featuring daughter Lalah Hathaway).

The title track revamps Donald Fagen's (Steely Dan) '80s song "I.G.Y. (What a Beautiful World)," while the group's take on the Doobie Brothers' "Takin' It to the Streets" doubles as the set's first single. In keeping with the group's gospel foundation, the album includes an a cappella doo-wop version of "Peace in the Valley."

Interestingly, "Beautiful World" began as a Take 6 reworking of various jazz standards. "However, as we started this project, other songs started coming up," Thomas recalls. "So we thought, 'Why limit ourselves to just jazz?' Finally, we decided to do an array of great songs.

"After we completed the album," he continues, "some of us weren't sure if we had chosen the best songs. However, after Sept. 11, we noticed that every song we chose was just right."





Excerpted from the April 20, 2002, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Billboard.com members section.

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