<< -- 3 -- Malcolm Miller THE FREEDOM OF JAZZ
The singing of the London Adventist Chorale was riveting throughout, gradually increasing in presence from a short introductory movement to the solemn movements of the second main group. In 'Save us' a sprechgesang alto soloist shouts 'Comfort me' against a wall of groaning slithering chromatically in dizzy curves, creating haunting colours enhanced by Marsalis's solo; it is followed by the fiercer 'Cried Shouter Then Sung', with screaming trumpet solos. Here Marsalis's use of the 'New Orleans Funeral Cadence' (an almost prophetic choice in the wake of the recent devastation of Hurricane Katrina) added to the 'affect' of the music punctuated also by unusual tuba solos, while the choir shone in the final brilliant pair of movements to close this section, 'Look Beyond', with its upbeat Hosannas and a spiritual song 'come back home' in which five soloists of the choir (Tina Brooks, alto, Bobby Carr, tenor, Ken Burton, baritone, the choir's Artistic Director, and Alaffia Maxwell, bass) displayed wonderful zest and style, the last an unbelievably high soprano solo (Jennifer Phillips), the inner intensity of which drew to a conclusion with spiritual passion and eloquence that affirmed the work's underlying seriousness of purpose. Indeed the whole work, with its unpredictable phrase lengths and effects, rich and unusual harmonies, nuances of orchestration and dynamics seemed to channel the qualities of light musicality into a most engaging and profound artistic confluence of serious and popular idioms.
The third and final section (retained for the second half of the evening) featured dance movements including a slinky slow 'Saturday Night Slow Drag' and faster dances like the bossa nova, before the thrilling final tutti chorus 'All Rise'. The movement begins with a soloist repeating 'all rise', with ensuing lively choral textures leading to an uplifting gospel song 'Listen up and hear my song', to which the jazz orchestra adds a final coda in Dixieland swing, a section that was repeated as encore after the enthusiastic applause from the audience, who joined in some warm hand clapping. As an additional treat Kurt Masur remained on stage for a beautiful jazz number by the LCJO, led by a beguiling Marsalis solo, in which he coaxed some husky, blues inflected tunings, notes at pianissimo levels, evocatively silhouetted in profile, as artist and instrument seemed for an extended moment to fuse into a single item. It was just the right note to leave.