On his third Telarc Jazz recording and his first-ever album of spirituals, vocalist Joe Williams has chosen to show yet another side of his musical nature. On Feel the Spirit, the bass-baritone offers thirteen traditional African-American hymns arranged by Johnny Pate.
Williams pays homage to his Chicago roots and the gospel quartet that was his primary musical influence. Although the 76-year-old singer has performed with many jazz luminaries throughout his lengthy career, he has always retained a hint of gospel in his style. On Feel the Spirit, he give it full vent. With settings that vary from duos with acoustic piano to call-and-response interchanges with singer Marlena Shaw and backed by instrumentalists and a chorus, Williams sings a wide range of contemporized ballads and up-tempo gospel songs colored with funk, rhythm and blues, and down-home blues.