Bobby Previte — Mass
(RareNoise RNR072, 2016, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2017-06-18
Even the non-Catholics among music fans are likely familiar with the structure of a mass, having listened to musical settings for the ritual dating back to the time of J.S. Bach or even earlier. Many modern composers have added their interpretations, including such progressive rock efforts as The Electric Prunes’ Mass in F, Yatha Sidra’s A Meditation Mass, Eela Craig’s Missa Universalis, Roman Stolyar’s Missa Apocryph, and Zaboitzeff’s Missa Furiosa, to name a few. A little Googling tells me that numerous composers have tackled the form in jazz, though I can’t say I’m familiar with any. Noted avant-jazz drummer Bobby Previte tosses his hat into the ring with this release, and to a certain degree it straddles the jazz and rock styles, as you might expect if you’re familiar with his work. Previte describes the work as “a modernist re-imagining of the choral epic Missa Sancti Jacobi by 15th century composer Guillaume Dufay,” and the arrangements feature the Rose Ensemble of 11 singers along with Previte (drums, guitar, organ), Reed Mathis (electric bass), Jamie Saft and Stephen O'Malley (both guitar), and Marco Benevento (organ). There are times where you could believe that the voices are singing the original parts, but other times have the melodies adapted for the instruments in various combinations. The opening section of the “Kyrie,” for example, is played solo on the bass. In other places, Previte takes a phrase from the original and turns it into a heavy riff, as in the “Gloria.” “Alleluia” takes yet another approach, seeming to take the vocal parts for the original and giving the instruments aggressive rhythmic parts to punctuate them. Whatever the arrangement strategy, the result is stunning throughout the suite, a truly original creation that sustains interest both with the intelligence of the design and the quality of the execution. Any accusations of bombast or over-indulgence can be countered with the simple observation that it’s a Mass — it’s supposed to be impressive and bombastic. The music works on its own outside of any religious context, never seeming like a gimmick, even when it sounds like a Medieval choir backed by Black Sabbath.
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more