Even if you were looking for Herbie Hancock's super-obscure privately pressed jazz mass, released in a small run back in 1963, you may have flipped right past the original LP. Somehow, the generic second-hand cover image of a Torah scroll surrounded by sundry brass instruments doesn't scream "sought-after spiritual jazz session," let alone one involving the supreme support cast of Thad Jones, Ron Carter, Grady Tate, Jerome Richardson and Jonathan Klein.
Thankfully, UK jazz collector John Cooper tipped reissue hound Jonny Trunk to the majestically uplifting music hidden inside the garish sleeve, and he's reissued the music as Hear, O Israel: A Prayer Ceremony In Jazz (Trunk) with a stylishly understated Reid Miles-inspired design and typography. Some jazz fans may have difficulty dealing with the piercing vocalese of Antonia Lavanne and Phyllis Bryn-Julson (think Star Trek theme) but this is nevertheless an incredible find. trunkrecords.com.
Blessing Over The Candles (Hear, O Israel - A Prayer Ceremony in Jazz)
Matovu - Bor'chu (Hear, O Israel - A Prayer Ceremony in Jazz)
Sh'ma (Hear, O Israel - A Prayer Ceremony in Jazz)
Jerome Richardson and his exquisitely funky flute work pop up again on the Outrageous (Dusty Groove) big band funk session recorded in 1970 under the direction of Impressions arranger Johnny Pate. Although the gifted Pate is probably better known to deep-digging DJs and beat junkies for his dope blaxploitation soundtracks for Shaft In Africa and Brother On The Run, his tough-to-catch Outrageous instrumental soul set, originally on MGM, includes some of his finest floor fillers. That's due in part to the esteemed presence of drummer Bernard Purdie and organist Richard Tee, who also turn up on Reuben Wilson's Got To Get Your Own, another lost classic that Dusty Groove has added to its impressive Essential Reissue series. dustygroove.com.
Tight Money (Reuben Wilson)
Got To Get Your Own (Reuben Wilson)
No Hang-Ups (Johnny Pate)
Acrobat's Texas Gospel series is a bit of a misnomer, since what you get is a selection of 50s spiritual recordings originally issued by Don Robey's Duke/Peacock operation situated in Houston, Texas, rather than music made by Texas artists specifically. That said, both discs, Volume 1: Come On Over Here and Volume 2: Be What You Are, authoritatively annotated by Opal Louis Nations, offer goosebump-raising examples of previously uncomped golden-era quartet singing.
Some might see a few contributions from the underappreciated Christland Singers listed on both volumes and pass right by, but serious gospel fans will know that the Chicago-based group was led by Soul Stirrers mainman R.H. Harris, and the included tracks sound like the missing link between Sam Cooke and Ray Charles, both of whom patterned their characteristic vocal delivery after Harris.
No less exciting are the songs on Volume 1 by the Golden Harp Singers, a women's group that might seem of little consequence unless you know they're fronted by Harris's first wife, Jeanette Harris, who clearly picked up a few ideas from her enormously influential partner. The sound quality is remarkably good, considering that these half-century-old recordings were transferred from vintage 78 sources.
In A Few More Days (Texas Gospel)
Calling Jesus, My Rock (Texas Gospel)