The Oxford dictionary defines quintessential as:
Representing the most perfect or typical example of a quality or class: he was the quintessential tough guy—strong, silent, and self-contained
Quintessential would be the perfect description of The Statesmen Quartet. The years between 1953 and 1957 had The Statesmen Quartet at their absolute finest. They were seen as the perfect quartet with Denver Crumpler as tenor; Jake Hess as lead; Doy Ott as baritone; and Jim "Big Chief" Wetherington as bass. Hovie Lister was the founder and the pianist. He also sang with them on occasion, making them more a quintet than a quartet at those times. However they did it, it worked.
This group of men is our favorite gospel quartet. They had style and class. They were gentlemen and great encouragers of other singers. Once they were on the scene, it was said that Southern gospel music would never be the same. I believe it. I have heard no one from times before or since that could compare to them.
They suffered a great loss when Denver Crumpler died unexpectedly of diabetic shock on 21 March 1957. But, they recovered and kept on with their singing. The group was devastated yet again when Big Chief Wetherington died of a massive heart attack at the National Quartet Convention on 3 October 1973. A few years after Chief died, Doy Ott left the group. Though The Statesmen Quartet went on for several years after Doy left, it was just never the same again.
Although many groupings of The Statesmen Quartet were great - Rosie Rozell and Jack Toney were great tenor and lead singers - it just never again achieved the quality that it had when it was made up of the personnel of the perfect quartet.
Enjoy this video displaying the quintessential quartet.
quintessential. Oxford Dictionaries. Oxford University Press, n.d. Web. 20 April 2016. http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/quintessential.
Wikipedia - The Statesmen