From a guest appearance on Kenny Garrett’s Happy People to fulltime member of the Yellowjackets and guest vocalist, the journey of husband-wife duo Marcus and Jean Baylor is one of unity, togetherness and partnership. Thus The Journey (Be a Light, 2017) by The Baylor Project is aptly titled.

Personnel are Jean Baylor, all vocals, handclaps; Marcus Baylor, all drums, handclaps; Shedrick Mitchell, piano and organ; Allyn Johnson, piano; David “DJ” Ginyard, electric bass; Chris Smith, upright bass; Dezron Douglas, upright bass; Corcoran Holt, upright bass; Marvin Sewell, guitar; Rayfield “Ray Ray” Holloman, pedal steel guitar and electric guitar; Bob Mintzer, tenor sax on “Summertime”; Keith Loftis, tenor sax; Freddie Hendrix, trumpet and flugelhorn; Keyon Harrold, trumpet on “Again”; Stafford Hunter, trombone on “Again”; Aaron Draper, percussion and handclaps on “Block Party”; Pablo Batista, percussion and handclaps; Nicole Neely, live strings and arrangement on “Again”; and Brandee Younger, harp on “Summertime.”

“Block Party” is a straight jam. It opens with sermony vibe, but quickly warms into a celebration, punctuated by handclaps, Jean’s wordless chants and Hendrix. Marcus holds back until a spot about two minutes from the end. Accompanied only by the organ, he gives the kit a workout. The interlude sets up the listener for the joyous, all-in climax.

The word “bedtime” is dropped from the title of the couple’s take on a Herbie Hancock classic, “Tell Me a Story.” This arrangement was meant for Jean’s whispery, ethereal voice. Marcus’ cymbal splashes and Jean’s chants give this song an enchanting quality.

The Baylor Project was created in 2013, but the Baylors have been performing together much longer. In addition to Kenny Garrett and the Yellowjackets, Marcus and Jean have, together or separately, toured or recorded with Cassandra Wilson, Joshua Redman, Christian McBride, Marcus Miller and more. The couple co-wrote three songs and contributed to two others. They also put their own touches to a pair by Gershwin, and Mongo Santamaria’s “Afro Blue.”

The Journey is the Baylors’ first featured recording as leaders. As co-creators of their label, Be the Light, they’re the sole producers of this album.

As Jean explains, “This album is a true reflection of our childhood, the musical and cultural influence of the African-American church, and all the things that have become a part of our creative fabric from then until now.”