There are gospel quartet groups that have been around for a very long time and just seem to be in the shadow of the national recording artist. Then you pick up a project by one of these groups and realize that the group is in deed a national recording artist, although you may seldom hear about them and have rarely seen them on the major gospel quartet programs. Well, Jay Caldwell and The Gospel Ambassadors is one of those groups. The Gospel Ambassadors have been together over forty (40) years. The group has recorded at least twelve (12) albums. They have also recorded several videos. They are on the independent gospel label Road To Glory Records. Deacon Shumpert Watts Jr. heads this label.
Therefore, this month we review the new CD by Jay Caldwell and The Gospel Ambassadors titled Live – Two Men Following Me. Before getting into the CD, here is a little more about the group. According to the group’s website, “Jay began his singing ministry at the age of five singing with his church choir.” After moving from North Carolina to Delaware Jay met Reuben (Doc) Henry Jr. and together they formed The Gospel Ambassadors. The current members of the group are Jay Caldwell, Lonnie “Butter” Jamison, Gabby Ledbetter, Keith Yancey, Minister Otis Willimas, James Griffin, Bill Gatewood, Lamonte Murphy., and Curtis Clack. Jay, Lonnie and Gabby are the lead singers.
There are sixteen (16) songs on this live recording. The recording took place at The Baby Grand Theater, Wilmington, Delaware. This CD is full of nothing but traditional gospel quartet music. It begins with a powerful introduction by the emcee, George Witcher. From there the group moves into a great ballad, “Holy, Holy, Holy.” The next track, “Put Away Childish Things,” has that ‘down home’ feel to it. You will find yourself rocking from side to side. This song also represents the introduction of the smooth harmony of the background singers. The background harmony just gets better with each song thereafter.
You will recognize that many of the songs on this project have been previously recorded by the group. So, you get to hear many of the favorite songs from this group in a live setting. The one track that will really get your attention is a song that has become the signature song for this group – “Walk In Jerusalem.” This live version is outstanding. The background harmony is very tight and smooth. The guys seem to be enjoying themselves while singing this song. Another song of note is the much recorded “What A Friend.” The Gospel Ambassadors’ version of this song is one of the best. It is not a stretch to state that we have not heard such a moving version of this song since it was recorded by Doc McKenzie and The Hi-Lites. The background singers take the song to another level. This is a song that you will find yourself playing over and over.
“I’ve Got Something” would probably be considered the drive song on this project. It is not a hard drive, but more of an upbeat tempo song. It will probably not get much radio airplay, since it is over eight (8) minutes in length. You may find yourself comparing this song to several recorded by Slim and The Supreme Angels.
There is a monologue at the beginning of each song. There is much encouragement from the group for the audience to join them in this praise and worship service. And, from time to time, you do hear from the audience.
Overall, this is a great traditional gospel quartet recording. The musicians are superb. The vocals are outstanding and more importantly, there is a message (for someone) in each song. Put the CD in your player and let The Gospel Ambassadors minister to you.
We give Jay Caldwell & The Gosopel Ambassadors’ Live – Two Men Following Me an 8.75 out of 10. To purchase this CD click on Two Men Following Me. This project is also available on DVD. Click on the title to hear “Two Men Following Me.”
REVIEW BY: Gloryland Gospel Music