This album is quite a surprise! The 25-strong mixed Afro-American gospel group from the San Francisco Bay area expands the traditional black gospel/spiritual lexicon with rich modern harmonies and sophisticated counterpoint. Every piece presents a unique, modern, multi-dimensional interpretation of the original gospel. For the most part the choir sings a cappella, but on four pieces a quartet of crack West Coast jazz musicians in varying groupings accompany The Keynotes. They include pianist George Cables, famous for his work with Frank Zappa as well as a myriad of successful fusion albums, and saxophonist/flutist Hadley Caliman, known for his work with Freddie Hubbard and Gerald Wilson, among others. Lord I Want to Be Ready starts off with Duke’s vibrant piano before the choir takes over. Canaan’s Land is played with a Latin beat and solos by Caliman on flute and Duke on piano, segueing into a more traditional gospel. Wonderful Word of Love plays out in a gorgeous lilting ¾ with a jazz interlude featuring flute, and Dick Berk’s crisp drumming accompanies portions of Ring Dem Bells. Sung a cappella, the remaining eight pieces continue their mix of traditional gospel and modern arrangements, with vocal solos soaring over the resonant backgrounds – a special pleasure indeed!