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Jazz and liturgical music have long and fruitfully worked together: one thinks of Duke Ellington’s Sacred Concerts, Mary Lou Williams’s Masses and works by Leonard Bernstein and Dave Brubeck. Todd is a natural and very confident successor, who wisely avoids the practice of putting ‘operatic’ voices into jazz contexts. Shaneeka Simon would sound just as confident singing Broadway material and the St Martin’s Voices, for whom Passion Music was written, deliver the familiar words – John 3:16, 13:34, 15:13, the Stabat Mater, the Seven Last Words and the Mass texts themselves – with what can only be described as relaxed reverence. John Turville’s easy but disciplined swing is also an important element. The Missa Brevis, written for Portmouth Cathedral, probably works better in concert and CD than for the Eucharist, but it’s a lovely piece and not without drama. Four other sacred songs fill out the record, but could easily have been dispensed with.

BRIAN MORTON Read the full review on Agora Classica


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