This set was pianist Hampton Hawes' last before he started what would be five years in prison on drug charges. He had been arrested 11 days before and ironically chose to record a set of spirituals (plus a blues) as he awaited trial. Not released until 1987, the music (played with bassist Leroy Vinnegar and drummer Stan Levey) is full of intense emotion, strong melodies and a little more variety than one might expect. Hawes' treatments of such tunes as "Down By the Riverside," "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen," "When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder" and "Joshua Fit De Battle of Jericho" are quite haunting.
AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow