Jubilation have been rehearsing for ten years. Their growing legion of fans will attest that this CD is worth buying without even listening to it, I have been to several Jubilation gigs. Each one filled me with wonder at the capabilities of some of their singers and the beauty in their voices.
Being asked to review their CD requires two things: musical sense and good hearing. I have neither, but hope to convey something of my experience of listening to this CD.
It starts very very well with Rick Bryant's vocal majesty. Next Buzz Worley voice leads the old Willy Johnson number "Nobody's Fault but Mine" - the vocal timing perhaps imperfect but followed by a Curtis Mayfield duel between Rick Bryant and Peter Kirkbride with vocal acrobatics that really fly.
Jubilation is usually a vocal lead with the whole choir providing chorus, or with "small groups" providing more intimate/complex arrangements. A female group is next followed by a male one. The first feels inventive and original but the second feels uneven - three of the voices carry it.
Next, "Learn to Forgive" - Rick Bryant's popular gospel arranged by Tim Tenbensel is the first Jubilation original and is certainly rich with emotive force. Jean McAllister explores the dimensions of this song and does so with great voice and feeling. It is a powerful performance of an evocative song.
Another Alex Bradford crowd favourite, "Glory Train" introduces Jackie Clarke with a long long single note that seems a little miraculous.
Next, Fiona Samuel's simple traditional rendition of Poor Wayfaring Stranger possesses a deliberate powerful overriding spirituality that reaches deep. The choir acts as a lamenting force. Also a crowd favourite but this recording has clarity and is very moving.
Rick Bryant's vocals in "Peace in the Valley" are perfectly delivered. Jackie Clarke's voice on Everything that has Breath will take your breath away. Jubilation could have closed the show here. There seems to be another act starting with the traditional hymn Bright Morning Star - which shows just how good some of the lesser known voices here are. Isolde Grunwald in particular shines.
The last four tracks of this CD is what makes this group different.
Roll Jordon Roll with the spectacularly deep voice of Nick Rosenberg.
Come On Up to The House by Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan is Jackie Clarke's big performance piece. She does it with powerful expression and an elastic well-oiled voice, NZ's most versatile performer certainly exceeds the task.
Spritual - Lorraine Havel's performance is commanding in this song by Ysaye Barnwell with arrangement by Sally Dodds. The best of the small-groups. The sudden intrusion of very modern problems into this contemporary spiritual reveals it is not just the "old dun new" but also the "new dun old". There is a common humanity felt here that ignites a powerful sense of kindred spirit.
The album closes with River of Jordon that closes with the fantastic chorus SHOUT AND NEVER GET TIRED. I know this CD will continue to be a treasured part of my listening vocabulary.