Sound of New Orleans
owner and producer Gary Edwards and Zion Harmonizers leader
Sherman Washington first met in 1969 at an early incarnation of
the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, where Edwards provided
the sound system and the Zion Harmonizers performed.
The two struck up a
friendship that resulted in the establishment of an annual
Gospel Tent at the Jazz & Heritage Festival, which recently
celebrated its 40th anniversary, and a commitment by Edwards to
record otherwise-overlooked New Orleans gospel music.
For his part, Sound of
New Orleans owner and producer Gary Edwards says, “I will always
remember my work with the Zion Harmonizers as a special
privilege, sharing the lasting excitement in the joyful praising
of the Lord.”
And that’s just what
this recording offers: 15 classic examples of the art of
male-quartet harmonizing in the joyful praising of the Lord.
Recorded in 1982 and 1990, this is joyful praising that can take
many forms, from old-style jubilee singing to down-home Baptist
shouts to contemporary R&B-style crooning.
Check out, for
instance, two extreme examples: the gorgeous a cappella
treatment of “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” a pure blend of
jubilee, shout, and doo-wop styles expounded within a stately,
deliberate rhythm; or the high-powered, backwoods treatment of
“Tied Up (in Jesus),” with hand-clapping, organ swirls, and
clipped-chord rhythm-guitar driving the quartet at what seems
like an impossible speed.
In the hands of the
Zion Harmonizers, both reflect joyful praising that never veers
from true Divine Inspiration, always illustrating the group’s
belief that “harmony in song can bring about true harmony in