Alvin Batiste

Songs, Words and Messages, Connections

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The Crescent City has long been known for the birth of jazz, its musical excellence and the world-acclaimed artists that stem from its firmly planted musical roots. Among them is the brilliant clarinetist, composer, and educator Alvin Batiste, and his most recent recording, Songs, Words and Messages, Connections, will undoubtedly reside in jazz history as one of its most essential works. The artist invited Mark Whitfield, James Pryor, George Fontenette, Keith Loftis, Roland Guerin, Herman Jackson, Muriel Wicks Jennings, Edith Irene Smith, and Edith Batiste to share in this glorious musical celebration of unforgettable rhythms and melodies from around the globe. "The Ode to Bechet" is a syncopated reflection of Alvin Batiste's musical development in the Crescent City while his "Isola Del Liri," initially composed for six-string quartet, jazz trio, and solo clarinet, reveals his dynamic improvisational style and show-stopping techniques. The centerpiece and spiritual nucleus of the CD is his excellent clarinet piece for orchestra, jazz, and ethnic performers, "The Theme From D'Afrique," a compelling composition that occurs in what Batiste calls a "rhythm cell." It combines his spirituality, impressions of Africa, and the soulful vocals of Muriel Jennings on a heart-stirring recitation of the biblical 23rd psalm underlined by his captivating clarinet. This new release surpasses Late, his 1993 release on Columbia, because it contains 11 original compositions either written or co-written by Alvin Batiste, his son Maynard Keith Batiste, or with the poet Edith Batiste, is very profound, and is an exemplary extension of the very deep jazz roots that gave birth to many of the multi-ethnic cultural codes you hear in jazz today.

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