The title says it all: five spirituals played by a group led by the extraordinary Joe McPhee (on soprano and tenor saxophones). Joined by two outstanding bassists -- Michael Bisio and Dominic Duval -- and fellow reed player Joe Giardullo (on flute, bass clarinet, and soprano sax), this unusual quartet winds their way through "God Bless the Child," "Deep River," "Just a Closer Walk With Thee," Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready," and McPhee's own "Astral Spirits." Tempos tend to be snail-like, but the depth, originality, and unusual instrumentation make this eminently accessible recording a winner all the way. An important contribution to the discography of the spiritual, McPhee gives it a new perspective, but one that is entirely respectful of the tradition. Performed gracefully and tastefully, the group tastes free form without losing sight of the melodies.
In the Spirit Review
by Steve Loewy