This is one of the more unusual recordings of the music of Dave Brubeck. Nassau Presbyterian Church and the Trenton Children's Chorus commissioned Brubeck to write a choral work based upon the late Langston Hughes' poetry, with "Hold Fast to Dreams" as a suggested starting point. The pianist and his wife, Iola, worked together, choosing a number of poems by Hughes and crafting them into a stunning work utilizing a church's children's and youth choirs, the Trenton Children's Chorus, two young sopranos, along with an adult soprano and Brubeck's baritone soloist of choice, Kevin Deas, with pianist Steve Pilkington accompanying the vocal segments. In spite of the fact that Brubeck wrote a score for predominately young singers, his music is very demanding, yet it is obvious that conductor Sue Ellen Page rehearsed them extensively for this pair of concerts that featured the Dave Brubeck Quartet at its premiere performance. The CD does not have the polish of a professional recording, as there are problems with overmodulation and some of Brubeck's piano solos suffer from rather muddy sound and are buried in the mix. The inevitable coughs and applause at inappropriate times, problems inherent with recording live, are also distracting in spots. But the soloists are very prominent and do a terrific job, though there are occasions where the children's chorus could have benefited from post-production mixing. This enjoyable CD was evidently released on a limited basis, likely targeted to other choir directors, so it may be rather difficult to acquire.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden