Vince Guaraldi

Vince Guaraldi at Grace Cathedral

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In a year that also saw Duke Ellington, Dave Brubeck and Lalo Schifrin write jazz-based pieces for the church, Vince Guaraldi may have come up with the most effective sacred work of the four. Written for the completion of San Francisco's Grace Cathedral, Guaraldi's Mass fuses his mainstream and Latin strains comfortably and movingly underneath the plain vanilla Gregorian lines and Anglican plainchant of a 68-voice chorus. Sometimes all Vince does to create a beguiling effect is improvise arpeggios or have his trio engage in a hot bossa nova workout as the chorus chants on one note. Despite the immense size of the cathedral, this music produces an intimate, unpretentious and undeniably emotional response - and there is plenty of jazz content, particularly when Guaraldi's trio goes it alone for nearly a third of the work in the ruminative "Holy Communion Blues." By all means, check this beautiful, unusual album out.

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