A Jazz mass, composed by Eduardo Gutierrez del Barrio; lyrics by Patsy Moore; vocal solos by Dianne Reeves; conducted by William Henry Curry; and performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
After several listens, I remain bewitched by “Misa Justa”, or “Just Mass” — a spiritual harmonic and poetical review of women and their parallel roles in scripture and modern society — performed on January 29, 2005.
Taking an inventory of the composition’s theme, all-star performers and style book elements, would make nearly anyone afraid of the hot-mess risk index that composer Eduardo Gutierrez del Barrio (Caldera) and lyricist Patsy Moore (yes, that Patsy Moore) chose to face down. But the piece succeeds through its detailed deployment of two choruses, an orchestra, jazz quintet, and vocal soloist — all while following the structure of a traditional church mass.
There are sudden moves in thematic energy transfer between sections that may jolt some listeners, but allow me to remind all of you that Mista Justa is a symphonic poem — “life happens” in that medium as well.
Dianne Reeves unsurprisingly appears in top-shelf form while her band — Billy Childs (piano), Terence Blanchard (trumpet), Hubert Laws (flute), and Paul McCandless (oboe) — din’t just expectedly play well with each other, but they also concurrently interacted with the L.A. Philharmonic as if the orchestra’s been a part of the band for years. The Paul Smith Singers and Northridge Singers of California State University-Northridge are also seamless here, providing a combined emotional richness that frames Gutierrez del Barrio and Moore’s messaging.
Moore makes a strong point when she described the piece on her Instagram account as a “celebration of the Divine Feminine”.
We’re all gifted with feminine and masculine elements of thought that should work in tandem so that we can create an optimal society for us, but centuries of violence and other forms of degradation have forced the feminine energies into retreat — and we have the current dysfunctional world to show for that effort.
If I haven’t scared you away with all that energy talk (laughing), visit Gutierrez del Barrio’s Soundcloud page to vibe, or tap the media embedded below …