Recorded live in Verona, Italy in 1998, Mass for the Healing of the World provides instant nostalgia in the quick change world of modern jazz. Built around William Parker's luminous and now defunct In Order To Survive band, the disc delivers an encore taste of Cooper-Moore's big handed piano stylings and Susie Ibarra's pandemic percussion with Parker's subharmonic depth charges. Old friends Rob Brown and Roy Campbell, Jr. join tenor titan Assif Tshar and others to create this lively version of the Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra.
The Mass begins with an Invocation read by Alex Lodico in Italian. Portentously unfolding with Dave Hofstra's tuba and Ibarra's tympani, "First Reading (Dawn Song)" sets the tone invoking awe of the sacred. Cooper-Moore's broken glass fills keep the rapture grounded. The orchestra's tone colors recall serial Stravinsky as it heats up and stretches. Suddenly, Cooper-Moore uses low stately chords to set up Aleta Hayes' singing of Parker's inspirational lyric.
He slips his accompanist's leash to tear into the opening of "Hallelujah." Dave Sewelson's mild baritone sax blows overwhelmed by a piano blizzard. As the rhythm section threatens to fly off the stage, it parts to reveal Parker, the driving heat at the core, firing on all pistons. A spacious opening of tiered fanfares prepares "Mysticism," then a heavy lockstep rhythm provides foundation for Chris Jonas' soaring, roiling soprano, Cooper-Moore breaking stride with shattering chord shards.
Altered soprano and processed trombone get "Response (Muezzin's Call)" going, then space is replaced by swing as the rhythm section plays it fairly straight. Tshar blows some torrid tenor and soon enough Brown scorches the stage. Little Huey rolls and blares as Moore/Parker/Ibarra/Brown burn into the Italian night. Lewis Barnes' trumpet dances wildly with the ecstatic crew. "Second Reading (Cathedral in the Mountains)" sets a down blue groove in motion for Campbell to decorate. When Lodico returns with trombone, Campbell peels off sheets of brass a la Don Cherry.
An emotional ballad, "Willows (Can you Give Me Back My Life)" has Darryl Foster's thoughtful soprano navigating the minors. Richard Rodriguez soulfully sweeps through on trumpet. "Cantos (Love God)" sounds like an outtake from the Peach Orchard, with its determined stride. Brown and Campbell restlessly wrestle through the rigid structure with unstoppable power.
One wonders how many recorded Little Huey performances languish in the can. This one documents a night six years ago that is both timeless and a time capsule. Like all Little Huey projects, all manner of musics emanate from the assembled musicians, all the musics tinted blue.
Track Listing: Invocation; First Reading (Dawn Song); Hallelujah; Mysticism; Response (Muezzin's Call); Second Reading (Cathedral in the Mountains); Willows (Can You Give Me Back My Life); Cantos (Love God).
Personnel: William Parker, bass, pocket trumpet; Rob Brown, Marco Eneidi, alto sax; Chris Jonas, soprano sax; Darryl Foster, tenor and soprano sax; Assif Tshar, tenor sax, bass clarinet; Dave Sewelson, baritone sax; Alex Lodico, Masaiko Kono, trombone; Roy Campbell, Lewis Barnes, Richard Rodriguez, trumpet; Dave Hofstra, tuba; Cooper Moore, piano; Susie Ibarra, drums, tympani; Aleta Heyes, vocals.