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Chris Walden Big Band & St. John's Choir: Kurt Marti Suite (2007)

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Chris Walden Big Band & St. John's Choir: Kurt Marti Suite How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

The German-born composer/band leader Chris Walden pays the rent with his television and movie work, scoring over thirty feature and television films, in addition to his writing for a variety of musical artists, including—Christopher Cross, Michael Bolton, Sheryl Crow, Paul Anka and Olivia Newton-John. The art of his heart, though, must certainly be his big band recordings, including No Bounds (Origin Records, 2006) and the Grammy nominated (Best Large Jazz Ensemble and Best Instrumental Arrangement) Home of My Heart (Origin Records, 2005).

With Kurt Marti Suite Walden goes home again, in a manner of speaking, in an exploration of his German language and culture with music based on the sacred poems of Swiss priest/poet Kurt Marti (b. 1921).

Walden fleshes out the sonic palette considerably here with the inclusion of a hundred-voice St. John's Choir, of the Lutheran parish of St. John in Hamburg Germany. The combination of Walden's Big Band and the big wash of voices create a sound that is lush, richly reverential, and often quite jazzy, as on "Hotel Jesus," that features a searing sax solo by Brandon Fields, and "Bitte" with Ron King's flugelhorn making a brief, anguished plea as a prelude to the choir's glowing harmony.

The Suite consists of twelve tunes, all of them lovely, concise statements each clocking in under four minutes, followed by "Slings and Arrows," a tune written by the late saxophonist Michael Brecker, given to Walden for a big band arrangement. It closes the disc, in a fitting bonus track tradition—a wonderful up-tempo romp that features a burning, Brecker-esque sax solo by Mitch Holder.

Another superb big band outing by Chris Walden.


Track Listing: Katechismusfragen; Hotel Jesus; Die Salbung; Ostermorgen; Bitte; Lobpries; Anrufungen; Ganz Werden; Lichstrahl; Protesantische Kirchenmusik; Predigtnot; Dahingehen; Slings and Arrows.

Personnel: Chris Walden: composer, arranger, conductor, producer; Wayne Bergeron: trumpet; Kye Palmer: trumpet; Ron King: trumpet; Sal Cracchiolo: trumpet; Jeff Driskill: reeds; Kim Richmond: reeds; Rob Lockart: reeds; Brandon Fields: reeds; Tom Peterson: reeds; Bob McChesney: trombone; Alex Iles: trombone; Arturo Velasco: trombone; Rich Bullock: trombone; Mitch Holder: guitar; Alan Steinberger: piano; Ken Wild: bass; Dick Weller: drums; M.B. Gordy: vibes, percussion. With the St. Johns Choir directed by Claus Bantzer.

Record Label: Origin Records

Style: Big Band


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