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Gospel (1937-1942)

Golden Gate Quartet

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Album Review

In 2002 Frémeaux & Associés released a single-disc introduction to one of the 20th century's most admired gospel groups, the Golden Gate Quartet. Its 18 tracks, constituting a little less than one-eighth of the material reissued by Document in its six-volume Golden Gate Quartet series, offer an excellent sampling of this dependably coordinated unit's earlier works. Although the Gates handled a fair amount of secular material during the period in question, this handful of chestnuts is primarily drawn from the devotional repertoire on which their reputation was built and is still being sustained. The final track, "Whoa Babe," is a Larry Clinton tune popularized by vibraphonist Lionel Hampton in the States and by guitarist Django Reinhardt and trumpeter Philippe Brun in Europe. The Gates give it the Mills Brothers treatment and prove once again that, with few exceptions, everything they tried on for size had a way of turning into gold.

Biography

Formed: 1931 in Berkeley, VA

Genre: Religious

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Pioneer Virginia gospel/pop quartet of the '30s and '40s. Calling their innovative approach to sacred hymns "jubilee" singing, the Golden Gate Quartet, propelled by Willie Johnson and William Langford, enjoyed massive acceptance far outside the church. Their smooth Mills Brothers-influenced harmonies made the Gates naturals for pop crossover success, and they began recording for Victor in 1937. National radio broadcasts and an appearance on John Hammond's 1938 "Spirituals to Swing" concert at Carnegie...
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Gospel (1937-1942), Golden Gate Quartet
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