Be on the lookout for a dude named Ezekiel grabbing his trumpet and jumping into “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.” It’s almost time for the rapture to grab up the true believers. I’ve read where the rickety California millionaire driving the whole thing is a fan of music, both celestial and earthly. Perhaps we can assume his tacit sanctioning of these glorious jazz titles as possible soundtracks to the end-days party.
The erupting horns, the tumultuous drums, the collective agitation – it won’t be an easy ride to the next world. But those who have lived with Trane’s hectic hosanna for a few decades know that the turbulence is balanced by joy – a gospel shout of a different kind. And that’s a hell of an Amen Corner that Pharoah Sanders sits in.
As usual Wynton is documenting the common hardships and simple pleasures that cross our paths from cradle to grave – call it a celebration of life’s unpredictable arc. Maybe that’s why it would make such a grand parting soundtrack: the string orchestra, jazz big band, and sizable chorus create a whomp sufficient enough to make the last glance over your shoulder have a profound emotional impact.
Of course, you don’t need a billowing orchestra to provide your celestial outro music. A simple chat between two pals could be poignant enough to get the job done. This pair’s string of duet records began with this program of church music, and the plush tone of Shepp’s tenor gets a big hug from Parlan’s piano every step of the way.
It takes a certain mindset to waltz towards that white light. Back in the early ’70s, it seemed the frenzied guitarist was so ready to forsake terra firma, he played a double-neck instrument to get there in half the time. Of course, some would say that gooey fantasias such as “Eternity’s Breath” are full of hot air. When prancing towards oblivion, I’ll take “Cosmic Strut” any day.
The shadows on the cover, the music’s eerie tone, the subtle mystery of the band’s interaction – maybe the Rapture needs to deep-six all those glorious adagios and have its participants meet their maker by slipping away down a dark alley. Hill will hurry them along.
And if the planet doesn’t crack apart by 6 pm tomorrow? Come on back here, we’ve got a song suggestion for that, too.