Quartet

Dave Bass – The Welcome Table

Dave Bass The Welcome Table DNB Associates (1997) www.cdbaby.com/davebass By Bob Marovich Although he recorded The Welcome Table twenty years ago, gospel singer and songwriter Dave Bass is promoting his quartet-inspired album to a new generation of listeners. The eight radio-sized selections on The Welcome Table sound like nostalgic reflections by a revivalist vocal harmony group, the kind that appears on TJ Lubinsky’s PBS specials. The songs have a latter-day Soul Stirrers vibe, with Bass channeling Sam Cooke’s elastic tenor but without his trademark yodel. Bass is accompanied by an uncredited quartet and contemporary musical backdrop. The title track as ...

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RIP: Tommy Cotton, Cotton Brothers Founder and Lead Singer

By Bob Marovich Cadillac James of the Cotton Family informed JGM that Tommy Cotton, founder and lead singer for the Cotton Brothers of Macon, Georgia, passed away February 9, 2017. Tommy Cotton was born September 24, 1937, in Marshallville, Georgia, the oldest boy in a family of 16 children. The Cottons worked share and provided field labor wherever needed. Some of the sons started an a cappella quartet group in the mid-1950s. Tommy, who was eventually named the group’s manager, was friends with fellow high school basketball team member Sylvester “Vessy” Huckaby, who served as a bodyguard for Otis Redding. ...

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Kinsmen: Creating Family Harmony

By Bob Marovich From their genesis in the Vasser Family basement to their forthcoming debut as television actors, the men of Kinsmen demonstrate how a family that sings together stays together. Around 1985, Robert Vasser, a member of Rev. Dr. Clay Evans’ Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago, gathered his sons Kevin and Keith and their first cousins, Van Moody and Reggie Tillman, to try their hand at gospel singing. The quartet of young men stood in the Vasser basement and worked on emulating one of Robert’s favorite groups, the Mighty Clouds of Joy. “We started singing around the record player,” ...

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Brothers in Unity – Somewhere to Lay My Head

Brothers in Unity Somewhere to Lay My Head (independent release) By Bob Marovich Originally recorded in 2008 as their debut album and relaunched this year, the Brothers in Unity quartet’s Somewhere to Lay My Head is an album of traditional hymns as well as new songs composed in the traditional gospel quartet style. The album is lovingly dedicated to Sandra Abney, the spouse of the quartet’s founder and manager, Elder Larry Abney, and someone who, from the photo included in the album package, sadly passed away much too young. The title track, not a cover of the Sensational Nightingales/Highway QCs ...

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Bishop L. L. Pittman & the Sons of Christ (s/t EP)

Bishop L. L. Pittman & The Sons of Christ (self-titled EP, 2016) LEPITT Records By Bob Marovich Bishop Lenzo L. Pittman and the Sons of Christ are house hunting, but not on this planet. On “Mansion,” from the Stockton, California quartet’s self-titled four-track EP, the men are busy picking out their forever homes from the “many mansions” on high. “I don’t even know what color my room will be / Don’t even know what size it will be,” but it “belongs to me,” Bishop Pittman sings. The Sons of Christ—Bishop Pittman, Bishop David Cusic, Eddie Robertson, Johnnie Galloway, and Samuel ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: December 13, 2016

“Born Again” Kinsmen www.kinsmenmusic.com Kinsmen is a Chicago-area quartet of young men with old souls. Their single, “Born Again,” is an up-tempo celebration of spiritual renewal peppered with old-as-the-hills lyric couplets, all propelled by a hip-slapping gospel quartet beat.  At the same time, the musicians give the song a contemporary feel, as do the high tenor harmonies and sporadic appearance of electronics. Originally known as Youth Edition and rebranded as Kinsmen now that the members are young adults, the quartet is comprised of first cousins Kevin Vasser, Keith Vasser, Van Moody, and Reggie Tillman. Trust me when I tell you that, with ...

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JGM Pick of the week: December 6, 2016

“Operator 911” Chris Byrd & the Heavenaires From the album Diversified (released August 2016) Available from digital music outlets Chris Byrd and the Heavenaires dust off and update “Operator,” the Cleveland-based Friendly Brothers’ 1959 classic covered in the 1970s by a cappella vocal group the Manhattan Transfer.  In their hands, it is now known as “Operator 911.” It doesn’t matter that the telephone operator has gone the way of the telephone booth and directory assistance. With a funky, bass-driven beat and a call-and-response vamp (“It’s a matter of urgency / I’m calling 911”), the quartet makes it its own and ...

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Faithful Connection – Thank You

Faithful Connection Thank You (2015) www.faithfulconnection09.com By Bob Marovich Named Quartet CD of the Year at the 2016 Rhythm of Gospel Awards, Thank You is a ten-track album by Faithful Connection that blends traditional gospel quartet singing with modern musicianship. The Fredericksburg, Virginia, group pays homage to Tidewater quartet history through its tight harmonies that emphasize the mid-range versus high tenor or bass. The quartet’s harmonies are especially prominent on the title track and on “Come Too Far,” which opens with the classic open guitar strum and features a warbling organ as well as hard singing from guest lead James H. ...

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