Alaska Mass Choir
Right Now God
Scientists say that the icecaps in the arctic are beginning to melt, and they blame it on holes in the ozone layer. If they ever listen to the Alaska Mass Choir, they may want to quickly adjust their theories.Producers: Don Williams, Jason White, Michael Bereal
album release date: October, 2001
With enough heat to melt icecaps on both poles, Alaska Mass comes through with Right Now God, a sizzling live choir collection that steams and lights fires in delivering choir power par excellence. Add in frequent solos from Dorinda Clark-Cole and you’ve got yourself another winner from JDI Records.
A trio of maestros guides and produces the project: Don H. Williams, the choir’s musical director Michael Bereal as well as industry veteran Jason White.
Setting the tone is the first song, the title track from Clark-Cole. Fronting the uptempo cut with those unmistakeable Clark-patterned vocals, she pours run after riff and run into her offering. Choir matches her, phrase by phrase, with White’s shimmering B3 and Bereal’s busy keyboards bolstering the composition. The song is given a lengthy and welcome reprise mid-album.
Clark-Cole continues with a new arrangement of “Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus”, starting off slowly on her own, backed by traditional piano accompaniment. As the song steadily climbs in intensity, Alaska Mass enters with repeated lines of “oh for grace”, nicely embellished by classic phrasing.
That’s hardly where it ends, as Clark continues with her song “Joy, Great Joy”. Brassy horns punch out the jubilation, with immediate mass vocals no doubt melting the Anchorage snows, setting up Clark’s entry. She proceeds to scat and ad lib in inimitable Clark fashion all the way to the song's vamp-out finish.
“Oh What He’s Done” is the most contemporary of the songs on Right Now God, with Clark reassuring that she is also masterful with a groove.
The project also features the choir’s bass player, T.C. Bereal, who steps out vocally on three songs. Showing a soulful flair, his work contrasts wonderfully with Dorinda’s. There’s a praise and worship flow on the powerful “Jehovah Jireh” and a similar vibe on the solo piece, “You Alone Are Worthy”. Bereal’s spirit shines easily shines through with God-directed praise, ministering to us in the process.
No one familiar with The Clark Sisters can forget Twinkie Clark’s “Trust In Him”, made unforgettable by the version that featured Rance Allen. That song is covered here, and given a gentle rearrangement by Don Williams, with Dorinda and Michael Bereal taking duet duties. Muted horns mark the cut.
The album concludes with the uptempo tambourine festival of “Christian Race” (with Bereal on lead), and the well-crafted, choir-only “River of Life” from Williams, which showcases Alaska Mass' overall pleasing sound.
It just cannot be overemphasized. This is one top notch CD, and not merely because Dorinda Clark-Cole is all over it. Prepare to be startled with the overall quality, and certainly prepare to lay aside any preconceived geographical prejudices.
Alaska Mass has it going on.
reviewed by Stan North —
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