NorthernBlues Gospel Allstars,
(NorthernBlues, 2002)

Gospel blues, how much better can you get than that? On this CD you're going to hear a great group of singers and players who were brought together in that vibrant music tradition, gospel music.

Voices of Hiram Joseph, Danny Brooks, Amoy Levy, John Finley and the Northern Blues Gospel Allstar Chorus deliver up a bunch of songs and styles that are as good as anywhere. And of course I marveled at the deep, raspy sound of Danny Brooks but didn't mind listening to the angelic strains of Amoy Levy, either.

The musicians -- Mark Mariash and Greg Cooper on drums, Bob Yeomans on guitar, Tim Drummond on bass, and Michael Fonfara on organ and piano -- do everything right.

Some of the above, along with Chris Brown, take a turn at the arranging. The result is that the tracks on the CD all have very different sounds, and are all very well done. Each singer has a strong individual style, vocal arrangements are very distinct on each track and the musical arrangements really give you a wide taste of what defines gospel music.

Opening with a catchy, finger-snapping arrangement of "Down by the Riverside" and closing with a harmonic chorus of "We Shall Overcome," the CD dishes it out in a very simple style, with some of the best gospel sounds you would ever want to find.

Perhaps if you prefer one style over another, you'll be a bit disappointed because of the variety here, but I think there's a fair distribution of upbeat tracks and more lowkey ones, and enough of each type to make it worth your while giving this a listen ... and another ... and another.

- Rambles
written by Virginia MacIsaac
published 6 December 2003

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