Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Music has been a part of the Salvation Army tradition nearly since its inception. In the late nineteenth century, when salvationists paced the streets of London like hungry pumas hunting for agnostics to devour, they were often met with unruly opposition. In response, generals at Army headquarters devised a clever plan to lull the unbelievers into a stupor with music and then pounce on them mercilessly. Charles William Fry and his three sons were a family of musicians from Alderbury in Wiltshire and they were hired by the Army just for this purpose. Within days the Frys had the rowdy skeptics hypnotized, bound, gagged and begging for bibles. Realizing the tremendous power of their musical instruments, the Frys then took their cellos and trumpets to union protests and busted them up lickety split. Rumor has it their violins were also directly responsible for the Red Flag Act of 1878, the opening of Royal Albert Hall, and the institution of "The Ashes" in cricket.

The Salvation Army was likewise so impressed by the persuasiveness of music they began employing musicians to be on call 24/7 for any crisis that might arise. This eventually led to the creation of full-fledged bands, a tradition which continues today. The Army's ability to adjust to current trends is one reason they have remained a relevant force in music for over 100 years. From the poppy Joy Strings of the sixties to the ska-core Insyderz of the nineties, they've always had a knack for using the popular idiom to reach the masses.

Redemption was no exception. Formed in New Jersey in the mid-seventies as an attempt to promote Christian funk, the nine-piece band consisted of musicians who had grown up playing in the salvationist church and reflected the high standard of musicianship within the Army community. Trumpeter Lew Soloff had previously been a member of Blood, Sweat, and Tears and has since worked with Mongo Santamaria, Carla Bley, and Ornette Coleman. Trumpeter Phil Smith attended Juilliard and is now the principal trumpeter for the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Trobmonist Charlie Baker is now the lead trombonist for the New Jersey Philharmonic Orchestra. Vocalist Jude Gotrich became a back-up singer for Perry Como and Andy Williams and has also appeared on Sesame Street.

Gone Fishing was released in 1974 by Triumphonic Recordings.

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