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The Harmonizing Four 1943-1954
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  • Personnel: Lonnie Liston Smith (guitar, tenor saxophone); Thomas Johnson (tenor saxophone).
  • Liner Note Author: Opal Nations.
  • Acrobat's double-disc salute to the Harmonizing Four concentrates on this popular gospel group's pre-Vee Jay recordings, cut during the years 1943-1954 for the Decca, Religious, Coleman, MGM, and Gotham labels. Originally formed in Virginia, the group was usually billed on their early records as the Richmond Harmonizing Four, the Harmonizing Four of Richmond, or the Richmond Harmonizers. During this period members included leader Joseph "Gospel Joe" Williams, John Scott, Thomas "Goat" or "Snake" Johnson, and James Walker, who also sang with the Southern Sons and the Dixie Hummingbirds. The original a cappella approach was discarded when the group (which sometimes operated as a quintet) came to include singing guitarist Lonnie Smith, father of modern jazz pianist Lonnie Liston Smith. The bass clef was handled by a series of excellent deep-voiced individuals as Levi Hansley was replaced by Clarence Ross, who passed away and was succeeded by the great Mississippi-born vocalist Jimmy Jones. This comprehensive collection's 54 tracks include all of the group's early hits among a solid blend of classic standards and originals. Anyone enamored of the Harmonizing Four' Vee Jay, Atlantic, Babylon, Jewel, and Checker releases is sure to enjoy this well-stocked overview of devotional works from the group's first decade of recording activity. ~ arwulf arwulf
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