Lalo Schifrin

Jazz Mass in Concert

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Having your own record company means being able to put out your music the way you want to. Lalo Schifrin won the 1965 Grammy for Best Original Jazz Composition for "Jazz Suite on the Mass Texts." Thirty-three years later, he recorded this much-expanded version at the Cologne Philharmonic Hall, backed by the WDR Big Band and soloists including woodwind player Tom Scott. As is usually the case when a contemporary composer attempts to contemporize the Latin Mass, the two elements -- the prayers that make up the Mass and whatever the musical form is -- sit uneasily with each other, pretty much as if they are taking place simultaneously in two different rooms and the listener just happens to be sitting in the hall between. As his award indicates, Schifrin has written some good jazz-based music and laid a foundation for various soloists to improvise. But the entry of the choir singing "Kyrie" or "Gloria" is always odd and unexpected. Though this work was commissioned in a more open time for the Catholic church, it's easy to see why such experiments didn't go on long. While well meaning, they don't really work.

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