Saturday, 12 February 2011

Choral Jazz

Wow, busy times with work (I almost just wrote 'busty times', that would be even better), so I haven't posted anything for a good while. Let me try and make up for it with a few choral-tinged jazz recommendations.

I have LONG been a fan of Max Roach's 'Members Don't Git Weary' album from 1968 (Atlantic Records), bought it on a whim when I was a teenager and have listened to it regularly ever since (SPOTIFY link). It's a a Modal Jazz classic (i.e jazz based around scale modes and not chord progressions).

I always found the title track interesting, with it's soaring lead vocal by Andy Bey (they got quite into singing on jazz tracks in the 60s/70s) and one day after hearing it for the gazillionth time, I decided I needed more of this crazy vocal jazz.

I can't say i've come up with an exhaustive list, but two albums you have to get your hands on (if vocal-jazz sounds like or is your bag) are:

Andrew Hill- Lift Every Voice (Blue Note 1969)

Bobby Hutcherson- Now! (Blue Note 1969)

They're kind of hard to describe, but i'll do my best. In each case the usual small jazz ensembles are augmented by choirs. The voices float in and out, singing motifs and vocal pads in unison or in thick harmony, and will then disappear leaving space for the players to take their solos as usual. Both albums feature an all-star cast of musicians, and by the sounds of it were both produced and engineered by Rudy Van Gelder (GENIUS). Like I say, the music is hard to describe, so get onto spotify and have a listen yourself. It's challenging music but worth it.

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