On the surface, the late Olivier Messiaen was no lover of jazz. When the topic came up in an interview that he gave in the mid '80s, he was quick to say that jazz, as a style, was something of a stylistic "robber" or borrower rather than an innovator, and that he'd "never been fond of jazz." So what would he think of Sacred Feast, a program of Messiaen-inspired pieces from multifaceted trumpeter Thomas Bergeron? That's hard to say, especially given the fact that the great composer often said one thing with his speech and something quite different with his music.
Despite the fact that Messiaen publicly denounced jazz, his music can be indirectly linked to this art form, as many of his influencesthe composers he admiredlooked fondly on the music and incorporated some jazz elements into their work. So even if Messiaen outwardly thumbed his nose at jazz, one can imagine that he might feel great admiration for what Thomas Bergeron has accomplished here. And what an accomplishment this is. Sacred Feast speaks to Messiaen's creativity, Bergeron's ingenuity, and the talents of the band that brings this music to life.
Bergeron takes the seeds of Messiaen's work and plants them so they can sprout into different shapes in a wholly different scene and context. In Bergeron's world, a piano prelude can serve as the inspiration for a zany, Monk-tinged vehicle complete with feisty drumming ("To Fabricate Unknownness"); a choral work can be reborn, with flugelhorn floating over a bed of accordion and live-looped electric guitar ("Sacred Feast, Part I"); and Becca Stevens' voice can encapsulate all that is pure and powerful in Messiaen's music. Her heavenly pipes, Bergeron's horn(s), and Vitor Goncalves' accordion prove to be the most important ingredients in this sui generis ensemble, but the other voices shouldn't be discounted. Cellist Hannah Collins artfully colors the music, Jason Ennis' guitar alternately adds subtle textures and pointed statements, Michael Bates' bass serves as steadying force when energy and angularity come to the fore ("Ecstasy In A Sad Landscape"), and Satoshi Takeishi's drumming balances sensitivity and strength. When brought together, these seven players help to form a notable jazz chamber ensemble that's able to project subtle shades of meaning and expression in the music. If this album couldn't change Messiaen's mind about jazz, then nothing could.
Sacred Feast, Part I; Pourquoi?; Ecstasy In A Sad Landscape; The Smile; Rondeau;
Sacred Feast, Part II; The Lost Bride; One Querying Wave Will Whitely Yearn; To
Fabricate Unknownness; Vocalise; Sacred Feast, Part III.
Becca Stevens: vocals; Thomas Bergeron: trumpet, flugelhorn; Jason Ennis: guitars;
Vitor Goncalves: accordion, piano; Hannah Collins: cello; Michael Bates: double bass;
Satoshi Takeishi: percussion.
African Jazz Beyond Jazz Big Band Blues Brazilian Classical Dixieland / New Orleans / Swing Electronica Free Improv / Avant-Garde Fringes of Jazz Funk / Groove Fusion / Progressive Rock Hot Jazz Jam Band Latin Lounge / Exotica Modern Jazz R&B / Soul Straight-ahead (Bop, Hard bop, Cool) Vocal