This wildly ambitious project for solo voice, choir (where everyone has either a solo or soloistic role), piano (Weston
), and percussion is among the most beautiful and profound works in modern music. These two composers, Minton
, worked together on a commission to create a piece for (at that time) a male voice choir. This was abandoned and the present work (written between 1989-1990) commenced. Deforming this work is almost impossible: The unusual inclusion of a large baritone section in the choir created numerous possibilities, not only vocally for Minton
to utilize, but contrapuntally for Weston
to make use of. All elemental structures of jazz are left behind here. Ever present are early baroque tenets and modern improvisational nuances. In this one long work, one section ends and another is either begun at its end or overlaps it, consuming it in full. Minton
is at the top of his form as a singer; he weaves a golden web of silken history where cultural and historical antecedents are touched upon but enveloped in his silvery tenor. The choir carries him through and through, up and down the adventuresome score, traveling from China to Vietnam en masse. This is music as power -- emotional, political, structural, and even economic -- as it is the power of a noise to generate forces such as memory, anger, sadness, grief, rage, joy, and transcendence. And then there is the use of silence in the recording process, where the breaks in the recording (the spaces from selection to selection) take place, breaking up each section seemingly in the middle -- so much so that at times the listener will wonder if there is something wrong with the CD player! But this is strategic in this hypnotic wonder of a work. All traces of cynicism and postmodern insider strategy are left behind here. This is a work that is accessible because of its quark strangeness and charm. It is a brilliant composition that should be performed by the finest vocal ensembles in the world.