Hear, O Israel — A Prayer Ceremony In Jazz

Heavenly music from the New York scene of the late 60s — a rare blend of modern jazz and spiritual themes — put together with a sound that’s much hipper than you’d guess from the title and cover! The work was penned and directed by French Horn player Jonathan Klein — but it features some especially wonderful work from Herbie Hancock, who’s playing acoustic piano here with a fluid, open sensibility that’s very much in the spirit of his Prisoner album on Blue Note around the same time — lots of odd colors and tones that are extremely delightful, and which keep things at a pretty stirring level throughout. Other players are great too — and include Thad Jones on trumpet and Jerome Richardson on flute and saxes — supported by some female backing singers who present some of the spiritual themes of the prayer ceremony, but at a level that’s much more subdued than other “jazz mass” albums of the time. The voices are mixed at a level that’s secondary to the instrumentation — often a bit in the background, so that they’re shading in the music with almost an additional sense of tone, rather than a stated lyrical content. The whole thing’s extremely beautiful — with a heavenly sound that’s hard to describe accurately, but which really matches the magic tone of Herbie’s piano. And while the last two tracks feature some spoken passages from a Rabbi, the rest is mostly that sweet blend of piano and voices — on titles that include “Sanctification”, “Kiddush”, “May The Words Of My Mouth”, “Micho Mocho”, “Sh’ma”, and “Blessing Over The Candles”.

(Tags: Jewish, Music)

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