Riverwalk Jazz Volume VIII RW CD 81998 Pacific Vista Productions 15 tracks 63 min

Nobody Knows The Trouble Iíve Seen, When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder, Deep River, His Eye Is On The Sparrow, Gloria, All Glory Laud And Honour, Ave Maria, Sanctus, Abide With Me, What A Friend We Have In Jesus, In The Garden, Just A Closer Walk With Thee, Flee As A Bird/Over In The Glory Land, Go Down Moses, Down By The Riverside

As a Christian and a jazz lover I have over the years liked to collect gospels, hymns and spirituals. In my early days there were no special albums so I made my own, taking tracks from my various LPs and putting them on tape (and now CD). In recent years there have been many albums dedicated to the medium so my collecting has become easier. This CD is from an American band that has a regular radio show (see the Riverwalk Web site for details of times if you live in the States). I donít get that many American CDs because of their high cost, but, having heard about the band and its quality, I wanted a CD of theirs and, as a Christian, I thought this one the best one to get, especially as it has some fresh material on it (the big problem with gospel CDs is that many or even most of the tunes are the same as on everyone elseís).

So, where do they sit? If Spirit of New Orleans are the Anglican low church/Methodists, Ken Colyer Assembly of God, Gota River Salvation Army, New Orleans Delight Evangelical Open Brethren Jazz Band then The Jim Cullum Band are High Anglican. Almost forgot RATs, the true happy clappy free Pentecostals of the jazz world.

By saying the band is High Anglican it is because, although the music is strongly arranged, it is not orchestrated. Listening to it I was uplifted in much the way I am when I attend Evensong at Christchurch Cathedral, hence the mental link.

The band musos are extremely professional without being over polished, but I think the real heroes are the sound engineers. Ok, why? Well I have heard so many excellent jazz bands ruined by poor balance. If you are ever charged with running the sound mix for a jazz band; listen to this CD first to hear how it should sound.

So, with a quality jazz band, playing some gospel standards and some material that Iíve never heard given a jazz interpretation, beautifully balanced, excellent vocalists (especially Topsy Chapman) and you have a CD that is well worth the high cost of Stateside material.

In the sleeve notes, Jim Cullen tells us that he had moved away from the Church but, since preparing and playing gospel music regularly at church services, his life has been dramatically affected and he has been drawn back into the Church. Bless you brother: after listening to this CD I can feel and understand that.