The Seven Deadly Sins comprises some of the most monumental music to have been composed and recorded in quite some time. Significantly, this does not only refer to the seven-part suite of the title, but also the second track "Ballade of the Fallen African Warrior," another extended piece with multiple sections. Joseph Daley, master of the tuba and composer extraordinairewho wrote and arranged all of this musichas been a member of the brass sections of several important bands, including those led by Muhal Richard Abrams
. Now, as creator of these magnificent suites, he virtually invites comparisons with others in contemporary music that have written extended works and presented them for broad appreciation. Certainly Daley's work recalls to mind many of Duke Ellington
' Epitaph (Columbia, 1990). Daley's work is more in line with Duke and Mingus, who employed somewhat larger ensembles than Marsalis.
Daley was moved to compose this music by Wade Schuman's paintings, also depicting The Seven Deadly Sins. Surely Daley must have been faced with a singular conundrum, one that had to do with the eternally dark nature of sin and the paintings themselves, done in a style somewhat reminiscent of the Northern Renaissance work of the great Albrecht Durer. Daley has resolved this by scoring the music for a complete range of brass and woodwindsfrom the high register of the trumpet to the deep voices of the tuba and bass and baritone saxophones. Such is the gravitas of the voices that Daley has managed to capture, in one fell swoop, the dark nature of his subject, as well as give voice to his individual musicians, who annunciate the varying nature of each of the sins. What follows is a superb panoramic journey into the depths of the soul, covering the full range of tonal color and timbral expression, from the blinding colors of "Invidia (Envy)" and "Avarita (Avarice)" to the towering flights of "Superbia (Pride)" and the searing rage of "Ira (Anger)" and the slovenly glissandos of "Desida (Sloth)."
The other piece on the album, "Ballade for the Fallen African Warrior" is elementally different from the other suite in that it has a definite beginning, middle and a dénouement, something that each of the pieces of the title suite have only in themselves and not as a whole. It contains a lilting, elegiac quality that turns heroic at the end its narrative becoming joyful, albeit beginning with elemental sadness. Although the works are meant to be ensemble exercises, baritone saxophonist Howard Johnson