How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
After establishing itself as the premiere a cappella vocal ensemble in the United States with specialization in early music, international folk music, the Great American Songbook, holiday music, and spirituals and traditional gospel music, Chanticleer returns to old ground. It is to this latter genre that Joseph Jennings and Chanticleer return with How Sweet The SoundSpirituals and Traditional Gospel Music. In 1994, the ensemble released the superb Where the Sun Will Never Go Down, a study in traditional Black gospel music. It was a hard act to follow, but How Sweet the Sound surpasses Where the Sun in sheer arrangement, ethos and pathos.
All pieces were arranged by music director Joseph Jennings and features Bishop Yvette A Flunder, who supplies the bona fide Holy Spirit to these spirited interpretations. Her solos on "Surely God is Able" and the stunning "Amazing Grace" make this disc immediately worth inspection. The medleys ("Soon One Morning," "Sit Down Servant," and "Poor Pilgrim") deftly combine like and disparate themes in a cogent manner displaying reverence, irony, and intelligence and are the most enjoyable selections on the disc. That is not fair. This disc is fabulous. It provides a sonically superior performance of a cappella spirituals, something the current catalog is lacking.
Track Listing: 1. Jesus Hits Like an Atom Bomb; 2. Surely God Is Able; 3. Amazing Grace; 4. Soon One Mornin' Medley: Soon One Mornin'/What You Gon' Do When the World; 5. Didn't It Rain; 6. Sit Down Servant/Plenty Good Room; 7. Keep Your Hand on the Plow (Hold On); 8. My Soul Is a Witness; 9. There Is a Balm in Gilead; 10. Poor Pilgrim Medley: Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child/Poor Pilgrim; 11. Be Still and Know That I Am God.
Personnel: David Alan Marshall, Jesse Antin, Michael Lichtenauer, Christopher Fritzsche, Kevin Baum, Matthew Alber, Jay White, Joseph Jennings, Eric Alatorre, Mark Sullivan, Matthew Oltman, Ian Howell, Philip Wilder.