All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review


Chanticleer: Our American Journey

C. Michael Bailey By

Sign in to view read count

...when I get home to that bright land!

Our American Journey is an intersection of multiple musical directions that the all-male choral group Chanticleer has been exploring for the past 20 years. Thematically, Our American Journey is a pan-continuation of several previous releases. The disc can be conveniently divided up according to the groups past and current interests. The disc opens with the traditional Appalachian melody "Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah" and closes with "Wayfarin’ Stranger" and "I am a Pilgrim," all of which would have fit in well on the groups survey of the American Spiritual, Where the Sun Will Never Go Down (Elektra/Asylum 90878, 1994).

Juan Guitiérrez de Padilla (1590-1664) and Juan de Lienas (fl.1620-1650) follow these American Traditional compositions with religious pieces further exploring Chanticleer’s interest in the Mexican Baroque music they presented on Mexican Baroque (Teldec Classics96353, 2000) and Matins for the Virgin of Guadalupe (Teldec Classics 21829, 2001). Chanticleer specialty William Billings (1746-1800) shows up with a cathedral organ-like "David’s Lamentations," its text based on II Samuel 18:33. The group nods to the American Songbook the Gershwin Brother’s "Love Walked In" and a spooky "Willow Weep For Me," both of which would have been at home on Lost in the Stars (Teldec Classics 13132, 1996).

The recording provides four world-premiere recordings as well. Steven Stucky's "Whispers" quotes Renaissance composer William Byrd's motet "Ave verum corpus" and incorporates lines from Walt Whitman's "Whispers of Heavenly Death." Jackson Hill's "Voices of Autumn" (composed 1982) reaches further back for its muse, using a ninth-century Japanese poem as text. Native American composer Brent Michael Davids' "The Un-covered Wagon" alludes to the 1923 silent film "The Covered Wagon." Finally, there is William Hawley's "Tre rime di Tasso," commissioned by Chanticleer in 2000. Hawley's sports a conscious inclusion by the composer elements of the Italian madrigal style.

Perhaps central to the recording are the genius arrangements of the Stephen Foster treasures "Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair" and "Camptown Races." This is pure Americana, presented beautifully with panache and playful reverence. Music Director Joseph Jennings adds his arrangement of Doyle Lawson’s "Calling the Children Home" to great effect, touching the source in Country Spiritual Music. Chanticleer’s lush shroud of voices envelope these songs, and all of the songs on the recording, with a aural down comforter, providing them with a warm and loving tone. The sonic soul of these pieces owes much to the warm and crystalline acoustics of St. Ignatius Catholic Church in San Francisco, Chanticleer’s spiritual home, where they yearly conclude their annual Christmas tour.

Chanticleer remains America’s premiere choral ensemble, this fact reinforced by Our American Journey. All that ardent listeners have come to expect is delivered with grace and beauty.

Visit Chanticleer and Teldec Classics .

Track Listing: Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah; Credidi; Versa Est In Luctum; Jefferson; David

Personnel: Eric Alatorre

Title: Our American Journey | Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Teldec


comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Peaks of Light CD/LP/Track Review
Peaks of Light
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 18, 2018
Read In Denmark I Was Born CD/LP/Track Review
In Denmark I Was Born
by Gareth Thompson
Published: March 18, 2018
Read In Copenhagen - Live at Jazzhus Slukefter 1983 CD/LP/Track Review
In Copenhagen - Live at Jazzhus Slukefter 1983
by Chris Mosey
Published: March 18, 2018
Read A Year Ago Today CD/LP/Track Review
A Year Ago Today
by Doug Collette
Published: March 18, 2018
Read Dreams of Belonging CD/LP/Track Review
Dreams of Belonging
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 18, 2018
Read Ravensburg CD/LP/Track Review
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: March 17, 2018
Read "Sektion 3-7" CD/LP/Track Review Sektion 3-7
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 1, 2017
Read "Up All Night" CD/LP/Track Review Up All Night
by Doug Collette
Published: January 1, 2018
Read "Fistfight At The Barndance" CD/LP/Track Review Fistfight At The Barndance
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 14, 2017
Read "3Divas" CD/LP/Track Review 3Divas
by Jerome Wilson
Published: August 2, 2017
Read "Morphogenesis" CD/LP/Track Review Morphogenesis
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 13, 2017
Read "Ultimate Hits" CD/LP/Track Review Ultimate Hits
by Doug Collette
Published: September 17, 2017