Spirituals Project

“Paul Neufeld brings a refreshing tone to Walk Together...Neufeld and crew keep the proceedings delightfully understated, pushing and prodding at the tunes but never losing focus.”
Matt Galloway, NOW Magazine

“Pianist Neufeld has picked sumputous fruit for his ongoing Spirituals Project, in which he looks into the work of 19th-century black composers. Neufeld, more familiar as NOJO co-founder and tuba-toting leader of the Rhythm & Truth Brass Band, does a great job of casting these melodies in a jazz vein.”
Geoff Chapman, Toronto Star
The Paul Neufeld Spirituals Project is based on his arrangements of 19th Century African-American Spirituals for jazz ensemble. The first CD of this material, Walk Together, came out on True North Records in October 2003, and features Paulís quartet of piano, Rob Clutton on double bass, Paul Brundtland on congas, and Nicholas Hockin on shakers and bells.

Paul has been gathering these folk themes for ten years, from sources such as old books, and recordings of Paul Robeson, the Fisk Jubilee Singers, the Staple Singers, and others. He takes the melodic lines and harmonizes them in new ways, adding instrumental colours that take the music in a different direction while staying true to the deeper meaning of the music.

One of the first jazz recordings that Paul was influenced by was a recording made in 1977 by saxophonist Archie Shepp and pianist Horace Parlan, Goiní Home, that was a program of Spirituals. This was his first exposure to the music, and it lead him deeper into the path already begun in jazz, and on a search for the original Spirituals that inspired that recording .

Taking inspiration from all sides of the folk music Spirituals, Paul explores both the soul inspiring faith expressed and the striving for freedom. These themes are true for all people at all times - the need to live free, and the need to search for meaning, ring strongly in our consciences and it is with this in mind that Paul continues to explore this music.

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