Saturday, December 02, 2006

Notes: Handel's Messiah - A Soulful Celebration

My mom used to manage a pianist who did lots of work with Afrocentric twists on classical tunes. So he was commissioned to work on this little project which was an African-American take on one of the most performed classical pieces in the world.

Now I usually break it out around the holidays and even though it must be like 15 years by now it still amazes me that such an endeavor was undertaken. And even more, it was executed so wonderfully. From the start, the African-American musical aesthetic is emphasized. The overture is a minor history lesson that travels trhough the evolution of Black music in America from spirituals to house music. Most of the songs take on the style prevalent in the late 80'sand early 90s which was contemporary R & B, I guess what would be termed today as adult. But there is young Busta Rhymes (now 5 Percenter) rapping on "Glory to God" and a reggae version of "And The Glory of the Lord". Jazz also comes through in the form of the Yellowjackets and Al Jarreau, who won a Grammy for his work on the album.

So this album is great for a multitude of reasons. There's a versatility and diversity displayed on the album but it never seems too scattered or entropic. Furthermore, it just makes you proud at seeing how much Blacks have contributed to the musical landscape. If they ever do it again they need to include some rock though. And blues wouldn't hurt either. Those are ours too.

No comments: