Music Pick: ‘The Abyssinian Mass’ With Wynton Marsalis Features Damien Sneed

Raise your voices and lift your hearts as Blue Engine Records releases The Abyssinian Mass by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis featuring Damien Sneed and Chorale Le Chateau with Special Guest Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts, III on March 18, 2016.

The Abyssinian Mass—a landmark collaboration of jazz, gospel, instrumentation and vocals —marks Marsalis’s first original recorded composition in six years.

In 2008, nine-time GRAMMY® award winner Marsalis was commissioned to write a piece commemorating the 200th anniversary of Harlem’s Abyssinian Baptist Church. The result was a sacred celebration: a sweeping composition for big band and 70-piece gospel choir. The work’s popularity sustained a 16-city, 19-concert tour that brought the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, award-winning recording artist Damien Sneed and his choir Chorale Le Chateau across the American south and into deep dialogue with the black tradition.

“Many of the greatest jazz musicians today come out of the church. The church is one of the last places that retain the actual feeling of the blues in sound and also the call-and-response rituals that are central to our music,” said Wynton Marsalis. “The principal fact of The Abyssinian Mass—the feeling that we want you to come away with—is uplift through the way that we all come together.”

Blue Engine Records releasesThe Abyssinian Mass as adouble album with bonus documentary DVD featuring performances, interviews and insights behind the music.

The package includes an essay by Leon Wieseltier, author, critic and contributing editor and former literary editor of The New Republic. “The Abyssinian Mass is a perfect score for the practice of renewal,” Wieseltier writes. “Marsalis has produced music for a full liturgy. The first thing one notices about this work is its magnitude. The mass is massive. In Marsalis’ sweet amplification of the prophet’s verse, this house of prayer is ‘for all, all, all, all nations.’ And for all, all, all, all states of the soul. ‘Everyone has a place in the House of God.’”

On February 5, The Abyssinian Mass will be available for pre-order and the first single, “Recessional: The Glory Train,” will be available for download and on streaming services.

Fans who purchase The Abyssinian Mass via Jazz at Lincoln Center’s webstore will receive a limited edition tote bag and the 2013 Abyssinian Tour Diary. More information can be found on http://store.jazz.org.

The Abyssinian Mass double album and bonus DVD release documents the work’s immense power to make audiences clap and sing, its joyous spirituality, its profound swing and its bluesy swagger. The exploration of the Afro-American experience places The Abyssinian Mass in the tradition of Marsalis’s Pulitzer Prize-winningBlood on the Fields; as the album reminds us, “In this great land of ours, everyone has a place.”

Photographer: Frank Stewart
Photographer: Frank Stewart

The tracklisting is as follows:The Abyssinian Mass Track Listing:
Disc 1
1. Devotional (8:34)
2. Call to Worship (5:11)
3. The Lord’s Pray er (4:13)
4. Processional: “We Are On Our Way” (7:25)
5. Invocation and Chant (6:29)
6. Responsive Reading, Matthew 5:3-12 The Beatitudes (7:57)
7. Gloria Patri (5:05)
8. Prayer: “Pastoral Prayer” (13:05)
9. Choral Response: “Through Him I’ve Come to See” (2:21)
10. Anthem: “Glory to God in the Highest” (7:01)

Disc 2
11. Scripture: Isaiah 56:7 (2:36)
12. Meditation: “Lord Have Mercy” (4:59)
13. Sermon: “The Unifying Power of Prayer” – Part I: “This House is God’s House” (4:17)
14. Sermon: “The Unifying Power of Prayer” – Part II: “The Power of Prayer” (4:57)
15. Sermon: “The Unifying Power of Prayer” – Part III: “Everyone Has a Place” (3:15)
16. Invitation: “Come and Join the Army” (4:33)
17. Offertory: The Father (2:39)
18. Offertory: The Son (3:22)
19. Offertory: (You Gotta Watch) The Holy Ghost (4:45)
20. Doxology (3:21)
21. Recessional: “The Glory Train” (7:34)
22. Benediction (1:27)
23. Amen (8:20)


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