The opening “Devotional” (Disc One) and the central “Scripture: Isaiah 56:7” (Disc Two) march to the beat of a church triumphant while the “Responsive Reading: Matthew 5:3-12 The Beatitudes” and the solemnity of “The Lord’s Prayer” (Disc One) and the three sections of the “Sermon”, the three sections of the “Offertory” (both on Disc Two)are wonderfully spliced together with other vehicles for star soloists providing a special communal, organic feel to the performances that Marsalis and Sneed compound in their pacing and sense from one section to the next. Best of all is the enriching tone brought to bear on the highest and lowest solo lines as soloists sing with firmness, lyricism and a powerfully communicative quality. However, it is the Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts III who brings the commanding quality to the crux of the mass in his magnificently guided “Sermon”.
The choir impresses with its bright, fresh tone, while the orchestra supplies distinctive colour and vibrancy; their playing consistently alert. Best of all, both Wynton Marsalis and Damien Sneed judge tempos to a nicety, showing a keen response to the swiftly changing moods in the mass and observing its finest details. The choral sound is candid and transparent, the lower voices sensitively balanced so as not to swamp the delicate timbre of the sopranos. The reeds, trumpets, brass and rhythm sections of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra offer flawless, vocally-inspired ensemble- and solid soli-playing, the plangent horn instruments gleaming and glimmering like the gold mosaics and stained-glass that decorated the churches in which this work was performed. And both Marsalis and Sneed favour stately and reverential tempi that let the music breathe with the right fullness and freedom.
Track List – Disc One – 1: Devotional; 2: Call to Worship; 3: The Lord’s Prayer; 4: Processional: “We Are on Our Way”; 5: Invocation and Chant; 6: Responsive Reading, Matthew 5: 3-12 – The Beatitudes; 7: Gloria Patri; 8: Prayer: “Pastoral Prayer”; 9: Choral Response: “Through Him I’ve Come to See”; 10: Anthem: “Glory to God in the Highest”; Disc Two – 1: Scripture: Isaiah 56: 7; 2: Meditation: “Lord Have Mercy”; 3: Sermon: “The Unifying Power of Prayer”, Pt. I: “This House Is God’s House”; 4: Sermon: “The Unifying Power of Prayer”, Pt. II: “The Power of Prayer”; 5: Sermon: “The Unifying Power of Prayer”, Pt. III “Everyone Has a Place”; 6: Invitation: “Come and Join the Army”; 7: Offertory: The Father; 8: Offertory: The Son; 9: Offertory: (You Gotta Watch) The Holy Ghost; 10: Doxology; 11: Recessional: “The Glory Train”; 12: Benediction; 13: Amen.
Personnel – Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra – Reeds: Sherman Irby: alto and soprano saxophones, flute, clarinet; Ted Nash: alto and soprano saxophones, flute, piccolo, clarinet; Victor Goines: tenor and soprano saxophones, flute, B♭ and E♭ clarinets, bass clarinet; Walter Blanding: tenor and soprano saxophones, clarinet; Paul Nedzela: baritone saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet; Trumpets: Ryan Kisor, Kenny Rampton, Marcus Printup, Wynton Marsalis; Trombones: Vincent Gardner, Chris Crenshaw, Elliot Mason; Rhythm Section: Dan Nimmer: piano; Carlos Henriquez: bass; Ali Jackson: drums. Chorale le Chateau: Rasul A-Salaam, Justin Michael Austin, Martin Bakari, Derrick Baskin, Jeanette Blakeney, Clayton Brown, Quinn Brown, Chenee Campbell, Joe Caruncho Jr, Rafael Clark, Emily Dankworth, Tynan Davis, Josh Adam Dawson, Lauren Dawson, George Dowdy, Sequina Dubose, Patrice Eaton, Patricia Pates Eaton, Stephanie Estep, Christine Fanuel, Eustacia Foster, Shani Foster, Ayana George, Maryvel Gonzalez, Jamal Green, Amber Harris, Kaleb Alexander Hopkins, Candice Hoyes, Clinton Ingram, Arielle Jacobs, Michael Jahlil, Edward Jordan, Jonathan Kirkland, Tesia Kwarteng, Latoya Lewis, Marvin Lowe, Maria Marsalis, Ann McCormack, Richard McMichael, Lynette Rhett McNeil, Lauren Michelle, Jamal Moore, Belinda Munro, Djore Nance, Darnell Norman, Jonathan Owens, Nicole Phifer, Marquita Raley, John Rawlins III, Brittany Robinson, Cameron James Roee, Timothy Springs, Quiana Smith, Travis Smith, Karyn Stevenson, Sharol Stone, Gabrielle Stravelli, Elaine Sturkey, Brandee Sutton, Jennalyn Thomas, Nathaniel Thompson, Tonya Thompson, Bobby W. Walker, Joanna Wallfisch, Matia Washington, Montavius Wells, Kortland Whalum, Kali Wilder, Jorell Williams, Allyson Wilson; Damien Sneed: Director and Hammond B3 organ; Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts III: orator.