Mark Lockheart and Roger Sayer: Salvator Mundi

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Hot on the heels of Mark Lockheart's highly acclaimed Days On Earth (Edition, 2019), comes this liturgically-based duo recording. The saxophonist is accompanied here by virtuoso organist Roger Sayer, director of music at London's Temple Church. Sayer was a student at the Royal College of Music where he won multiple prizes for organ recital and was organ soloist on the soundtrack to Christopher Nolan's science fiction blockbuster Interstellar (2014).

This is by no means the first classical crossover project that Lockheart has undertaken. There have been collaborations with the Orlando Consort, baroque violinist Andrew Manze, recorder virtuoso Pamela Thorby, Irish pianist and composer Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin and renowned folk singer June Tabor. Classical organ and jazz team-ups are not without precedent eirther. Trumpeter Ian Carr recorded his dulcet swansong Sounds & Sweet Airs (That Give Delight & Hurt Not) (Celestial Harmonies, 1993), with John Taylor playing organ at Southwark Cathedral and, similarly, Taylor—again on organ but also with a choir—accompanied John Surman on the saxophonist's Proverbs And Songs (ECM, 1997), recorded at Salisbury Cathedral. Surman followed that with Rain On The Window (ECM, 2008) with Howard Moody on church organ.

Salvator Mundi was actually recorded at Temple Church on January 10, 2016 and July 9, 2017 where the acoustics are naturally ideal for such a project. Where this recording differs from the Carr and Surman albums is that Salvator Mundi utilises three pieces by contemporary composer John Ashton Thomas (who arranged all the selections) and other compositions by Thomas Tallis, William Byrd, and Henry Purcell plus the traditional "In Dulci Jubilo" and the title track written by the 17th century English composer John Blow. The opening track was written by Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924), its unhurried pace setting the scene for the ensuing numbers.

All the tunes afford Lockheart plenty of space for improvisation, such as his searching soprano on Ashton Thomas' lyrical "The Garden." Lockheart's soprano often emulates a sung voice as on Purcell's "Dido's Lament" and especially on the title track, where he delicately explores the higher registers of the instrument. Whilst on the majority of compositions his instrument of choice is soprano saxophone, on Tallis' "Third Tune For Archbishop Parker's Psalter" Lockheart offers an almost bluesy extemporisation on majestic tenor saxophone. This album's content may not be recognised by some as jazz, per se, but it certainly qualifies as atmospherically rich, jazz-informed improvisation and Lockheart is a consummate master of that art.

Track Listing: Beati Quorum Via; Salvator Mundi; In Dulci Jubilo; Temple Hymn 1; Third Tune For Archbishop Parker’s Psalter; Ave Verum Corpus; Sixth Tune for Archbishop Parker’s Psalter; Temple Hymn 2; Dido’s Lament; The Garden.

Personnel: Mark Lockheart: soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone; Roger Sayer: organ.

Title: Salvator Mundi | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Edition Records

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