Friday, November 23, 2012

The Blind Boys Down in New Orleans

A new release by The Blind Boys of Alabama, Down in New Orleans (Time-Life) has the legendary gospel singers in the Crescent City where they are backed by a terrific trio of David Torkanowsky on piano, Roland Guerin on bass and Shannon Powell on drums along with guest appearances by the Hot 8 Brass Band, Allen Toussaint and The Preservation Hall Jazz Band. 

Mixing in gospel classics like Free at Last, You Got to Move, and I’ll Fly Away with secular positive message songs like the late Earl King’s Make a Better World, the group continues to move the heart with the sheer conviction an awe-inspiring vocals of Clarence Fountain, Jimmy Carter and the others. Certainly even if their voices have some raspiness from age, it is not rust and delivering How I Got Over, the vocals send chills through the listener.

 The Preservation Hall Jazz Band can be heard backing them on Across the Bridge, Uncloudy Day and Down By the Riverside, on which Allen Toussaint adds some gospel funk piano. Toussaint also is heard on the fine If I Could Help Somebody, while the Hot 8 enliven Make a Better World as well as the exhilarating rendition of I’ll Fly Away, that closes this CD that is another marvelous addition to the Blind Boys extensive discography. 

This review originally appeared in the February 2008 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 301). I believe I received a review copy from a publicist. Here are the Blind Boys with the Dirty Dozen Brass band at Tipitina's Uptown.

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