Photographer: Frank Stewart
Photographer: Frank Stewart

The piece was originally composed for the bicentennial of New York’s Abyssinian Baptist Church, but, over 24 days and 5,347 miles, the ensemble performed this historic combination of jazz and gospel in churches and theaters all over the United States.

Damien Sneed  conducted the orchestra  for Marsalis’ Abyssinian Mass with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and a 150-voice choir comprised of the Mass Choir of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, students for Wilberforce University in Ohio, and members of Chorale Le Chateau, a group assembled and directed by Sneed. The Abyssinian Mass, nearly two hours in length, was commissioned to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the historic Abyssinian Baptist Church, under the leadership of Senior Pastor Calvin O. Butts.

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