Joel Cohen has done more than almost anyone to research and make available to the vast listening public the music of cultures whose traditions were little-known or underappreciated—and with this project he turned to a tiny but unique communal society for whom music was/is essential, a prized gift from God. He found his source material in the small but still active Shaker community at Sabbathday Lake in Maine, where he went in the spring of 1994 to comb the village’s extensive archive of Shaker tunes, recorded in its library’s treasured manuscripts. The result of his research—full disclosure: I was present for one of these recording sessions during a weekend visit to Sabbathday Lake—is this excellent recording of original Shaker songs andRead more hymns, from the most familiar “Simple gifts” to the dozens (34 in all) of lesser-known but no less inspiring or infectious representatives of this vast repertoire of hundreds—thousands—of songs.
Cohen and his expert professional singing colleagues are joined on some pieces by several of the real live Sabbthday Lake Shakers, and the liner notes are very helpful in describing the purpose and significance of the selections. This is a truly invaluable, living document of American musical history whose preservation in the modern world was, in a word, “shakey”. But thanks to Cohen and his ensemble—and the cooperative individuals of the Shaker community in Maine—we have something of this tradition to hold on to, to appreciate, and to enjoy. After all, this is music designed to be joined by everyone, to sing and dance, a life-affirming celebration. It’s wonderful to have this original Erato production readily available again.
Not too good.August 4, 2012By norma s green (los angeles, CA)See All My Reviews"The voices are good - but selection of chants are rather boring. Only good one was at the end - "Simple Gifts"."Report Abuse
Not what I expected...May 29, 2012By Margaret V. (Fenwick, Ontario)See All My Reviews"It is very well sung, no doubt about that. I was disappointed because I had expected a lot more harmony. I am familiar with cut #31 (The Spiritual Sailor) and thought that the other selections would be in the same vein...."Report Abuse