Bryant's Jubilee Quartet

Complete Recorded Works (1928-31)

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Like many of the early to mid-20th century gospel groups whose surviving works were reissued by Document during the '90s, little or no information has been uncovered concerning the unit that recorded in 1928 and 1931 as Bryant's Jubilee Quartet and Quintette. No connection has been established between this group and the sanctified jug band led by Elder Richard Bryant in Memphis in 1928; nor does the fact that one of their records was issued under the name of the Alabama Jubilee Quartet prove that they had any ties to the gospel scene centered in Jefferson County, AL, which was best represented by the popular Birmingham Jubilee Quartet. Bryant's Jubilee Quartet and Quintette left a total of 29 recordings, 25 of which were compiled onto one disc in 1996. From "Creep Along, Moses" onward, each performance is solid and reassuring, with warm harmonies and frequent use of rolling rhythms that are most appealing. About half of these songs are sung a cappella, and the unidentified pianist who propels and accents the group on the other sides was artful enough to contribute just the right measure of support, both sanguine and subtle. The song selection on this enjoyable collection includes remake versions of "Who Stole de Lock Off de Hen House Door?" and "Every Time I Feel the Spirit," as well as "Ezekiel Saw de Wheel," "This Train," and "I Want to Be Ready." "Do You Call That Religion?" is a cousin to "Scandalize My Name," and the refrain on "When the World's on Fire" is recognizable as the root of Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land." A steaming hot version of "Who Stole the Lock?" was recorded in 1932 by singing trumpeter Henry Red Allen with an all-star jazz band billed as the Rhythmakers. Four remaining sides from the Bryant Jubilee group's March 20, 1931 session were added to Document's complete edition devoted to the Dixie Jubilee Singers. And it's all good.

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