One thing about Mitchell's Christian Singers: each of their 80 recorded performances is a marvel of devotional sincerity and creative collaboration. What comes across in the third installment in Document's four-volume edition of their complete works is the intensely personal nature of individual and shared spiritual paths. As voices breathe, blend, and contrast within the structure of each song, messages inherent in the lyrics take on substance and depth far beyond the parameters of dogma. Well-known spirituals -- represented here by a characteristically robust treatment of "Rock My Soul (In the Bosom of Abraham)" -- are relatively scarce in this group's discography, as their repertoire appears to have been drawn from the songbooks used by churchgoers in the immediate vicinity of their hometown of Kinston, NC. "The Saints Are Marching," on the other hand, is clearly recognizable as the old-time devotional jazz standard "When the Saints Go Marching In," and stands tall among their very finest recorded accomplishments. Tracks 12 and 13 ("What More Can My Jesus Do?" and "Mother Dies A-Shoutin'") were recorded live at Carnegie Hall to represent the "Spirituals" in John Hammond's historic "Spirituals to Swing" concert on December 23, 1938. These are the quartet's only known live recordings. Tracks 21-25 come from the first of their last two recording dates, which unlike all of their previous sessions took place in Chicago.
Mitchell's Christian Singers, Vol. 3: 1938-1940 Review
by arwulf arwulf