I nominate "Golden Gate Gospel Train" (1938) as music to put in the next spaceship for the aliens to listen to so they know how awesome humans are.
The Clark Sisters: Is My Living In Vain? (1982)
5 sisters singing in 3 part harmony - nothing else sounds quite like it. Twinkie Clark is the organist, arranger, and another reason why gospel is gold for jazz harmony nerds.
Reverend Kelsey: The Little Boy (1947?)
Yup, it has a trombone on it, but that’s the least spectacular part of it. Check out the syncopated declamation at 1:38 or so. Proto-rap. Even the clapping is funky.
You don’t hear that pronounciation of “concerned” too much anymore, outside of Borough Park or Louis Armstrong.
Hezekiah Walker: This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ (1992)
State of the art 1992 gospel. Bass player is on fire. This is what all the bands in Williamsburg will sound like in 5 years.
Kenny Carr and the Tigers: Yes, part II (2004)
My list wouldn’t be complete without some trombone shout bands from the United House of Prayer. Here is the very fine Kenny Carr with the Tigers. Even more amazing on this album is the track “Soon Coming King”, in which the trombones sound just like 1950’s blues harmonicas, but nobody has posted it on youtube, so you’ll have to buy it.
The Famous Blue Jays: I’m Bound for Canaan Land (1947)
Here’s another old quartet track from the Famous Blue Jays featuring Silas Steele on lead vocals. As many people have noted, quartet lead singing like this cast a huge web of influence, since many of the singers who created the American pop style had backgrounds in this music. Next time you hear Carly Rae Jepsen, think about Silas Steele.