STYLE: Choral RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 123846-19026 LABEL: Signum SIGCD083 FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 1
Reviewed by Steven Whitehead
Written in 2003 and first performed as 'Jazz Mass' Will Todd's unusual setting of the traditional Latin Mass does what we would expect from the title. We open with the composer at the piano, sounding not unlike Oscar Peterson, before the band joins him. Your reviewer is not a jazzman although he is the son of a jazzman and purists will have to forgive me if I miss the mark. To me what follows is reminiscent of the Johnny Dankworth Band with soprano Bethany Halliday singing the part of Cleo Laine; it swings along nicely and the musicianship is impeccable with some excellent choral work from the Vasari Singers. I have to say that I do not attend a church where we celebrate Mass so I approached this CD as entertainment rather than worship. It did entertain me and I enjoyed the ride but perhaps those from a different Christian background may feel less comfortable with a jazz Mass. The other pieces on the CD range from new settings of old texts such as "Christus est stella" and "Ave verum corpus" to newer commissions in English such as "Lighting The Way", written for the festival of that name at Durham Cathedral in 2000 and featuring a nice soprano solo from Fiona McWilliams. These shorter pieces are all melodic and allow the singers to show us what they can do. To my ears, the music could have come from Taize, being thoughtful aides to meditation written with spiritual sensitivity and a love of choral singing.
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