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July/August 2001

Fontella Bass and the Voices of St. Louis
Travellin'
Justin Time Records

Fontella Bass and the Voices of St. Louis offer old-fashioned gospel and soul on Travellin', a nostalgic as well as inspirational journey. Bass boasts one of those great big jazz voices that can growl, wail and embrace a great melody, whether it's the stately, slow moving "classic" gospel of "In the Garden" or the sweetly joyous club combo setting of the album's title track. Though Bass' vocal pieces are clearly the album's centerpiece, the titular leader gives way to her band on occasional instrumentals like "DB Blues," a gospel blue romp wrought from cool multiple keyboards and a nifty horn chorale. Guitarist Tracy Mitchell, whose spindly licks highlight the uptempo jazzy "Walk With Me," also takes a turn at the microphone for "Waiting," baring a Jeffrey Osborne-style soulful tenor. Producer/keyboardist Bahnamous Bowie crafts a direct, raw sound perfect for the band's nostalgic style-and a love letter to life's simple joys.

Originally published in July/August 2001
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