"There have been countless jazz masses and gospel-jazz recordings, with some iconic and influential recordings among them including Mary Lou Williams' 'Black Christ of the Andes' (1963), Donald Byrd's 'A New Perspective' from 1964, Duke Ellington's 1965 'Sacred Music Concert', and Dave Brubeck's 'Truth is Fallen' from 1972, to name a few. Add to this prestigious legacy Eri Yamamoto's 'Goshu Ondo Suite' " Thom Jurek, Allmusic.com 4.5/5 Stars
GOSHU ONDO SUITE
Eri Yamamoto Trio & Choral Chameleon
Released by AUM Fidelity
From AUM Fidelity's website:
Eri Yamamoto transcended jazz, classical and folk forms in creating her new work : for jazz trio & 50-member choir. She has seamlessly melded biography, group improvisation and far-ranging compositional vocabularies in a momentous seven-part suite, featuring her longstanding trio in collaboration with New York-based Choral Chameleon, directed by its award-winning founder, Vince Peterson.
The suite is based off of the “Goshu Ondo,” a traditional circle dance song from Shiga, Japan, where it was sung during the summer Bon festival to warmly welcome ancestral spirits. Composing the Goshu Ondo Suite brought some of Yamamoto’s happiest childhood memories flooding back. The decision to compose for choir was sprung from a desire to bring community into the process of creation – to increase by a great amount the number of people involved in making & celebrating beautiful sound together! To evoke that joyful sense, her Trio & Choral Chameleon engaged in an intensive & committed rehearsal schedule, with the choir singing in Romaji transliteration of the Japanese text. Indeed every member of Choral Chameleon was so engaged with the process that they memorized the piece, performing the exultant November 2018 world premiere by (and with) great heart!
The suite commences with the folk song's melodic kernel from which the rest blooms. Choral Chameleon’s heterophony, polyphony and unison singing interweave with Yamamoto’s trio, often with gorgeous open vowels evocative of natural scenes in works ranging from Claude Debussy through Charles Ives to Duke Ellington. All is bolstered by gentle trio improvisation, Ambrosio and Takeuchi propelling the band forward and ultimately building to a life-affirming choral unison. The second and longest part, with its tempo, dynamic and metric shifts evolving as naturally as breathing, is the tree trunk, fostering development and setting the stage for the various branch movements to follow. All the while, that melodic seed, so deeply enmeshed in the compositional fabric, bears fruit of stunning variety and flavor.
As the final movement’s ecstatic and celebratory rhythms surge, crest and dissipate and the various musical threads converge, a sense of transcultural journey is palpable, of many and disparate experiences existing in luminous multi-communal nexus. The coda composition performed by the trio, “Echo of Echo”, provides a final moment of reflection, mirroring the suite’s ultimate descent toward silence; demonstrating, again, that the part is in the whole, which far exceeds the sum of its components.