Jason Rebello/Opus Anglicanum: Adorna

Shades of Jarrett and Garbarek as the British pianist has his devotional moment with choir, some way from jazz but echoing Bill Evans at times

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One of the benefits of reviewing is the unusual material which would normally pass you by, and this is certainly different. The Gregorian chant of vocal group Opus Anglicanum is combined with the improvisations of Jason Rebello, and although there have been religious links with jazz before – Duke’s Sacred Concerts and Michael Garrick’s Jazz Praises spring to mind – here it’s more clearly defined.

The music is from Candlemas, which like many church traditions has mixed roots. In pre-Christian times it was a festival of light, a time of hope against darkness, between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, and it has links with the Gaelic festival, Imbolc.

Some of the tracks are markedly delineated, such as the introductory prayer Deus In Adiutorium and the blessing, Dominus Vobiscum, where the voices lead and the piano responds. Others are intermixed: Germinavit has Rebello slightly behind the voices whilst his block chords and thoughtfully positioned notes on Te Deum add a rich, almost forthright, melodic uplift.

On the title piece, Adorna, Rebello’s introductory single note develops into the rhapsodic, and the spirit of Bill Evans is present on the impressionistic Laetabundus, the piano dripping notes of holy water, ripples intertwined with the harmony, before the voices hold a hummed note for Rebello’s minimalism. Lumen goes from light and buoyant to deep and dark, each piano section giving a different feeling.

The album is beautifully recorded and the acoustics in the Turner Sims give the voices, both solo and in tandem, an appropriately ecclesiastical echo, enhancing the sound, as on the pianoless Ave Gratia.

This might be outside the points of reference of many readers, but it’s peaceful, tranquil and an intriguing combination, well worth a listen. Latin primer not essential but useful!

Discography
Deus In Adiutorium; Quando Natus; Germinavit; Dominus Vobiscum; Lumen; Ave Gratia; Adorna; Responsum; Videte Miraculum; Laetabundus; Te Deum; Nolite Timere (59.43)
Jason Rebello (p) with Opus Anglicanum (Stephen Burrows, David de Winter, John Bowen, Roland Robertson, James Birchall). Live at Turner Sims Hall, Southampton, 25 January 2020.
Ulysses Arts UA210140