The American "Missa Luba"!
Tym S. | San Francisco, CA USA | 02/16/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Dear Mrs. Parks, this is a letter of love to you..."
50 years ago "Missa Luba" combined the Latin Mass with traditional Congolese spirituals. The transformation from solemnity to celebratory was a revelation.
Hannible Lokumbe's "Dear Mrs. Parks" is a very American parallel to it; American in both its musics and its historical struggle of conscience. Like "Missa Luba" it merges classical formality with African dynamics, but extends them into jazz, gospel, and blues. The Civil Rights Movement was fueled by spirituals and biblical poetry, unifying every beaten loner into a redemptive revolution. Lokumbe's tribute oratorio mirrors this in psalmic letters and choral chants which reflect the one and everyone. 'The personal is political' and, as ever, very powerful.
"A Prayer" is a march of faith one step at a time. Its deliberate tonal steps, repeated with pause and concentration, suggest struggle but unwavering discipline. This almost martial formality in chordal and choral structure is unity in action, literally. "For We Have Walked..." takes this marching tension and releases it with a swinging polyrhythmic interlude that builds into stacked chorals so powerful that the audience leaps to cheer at its end! "In Sacrifice" reinforces chant as a rhythm, a kindred confession and resolution, that backbones the work, before the rhythm multiples into intensely propulsive drums and ecstatic horns. Often there is a blur between Catholic chorals and the sway of Southern gospel. For me the truest strengths of the work came when the harmonies and melodies locked together into fevered forward motion, such as the exhilerating "Like Luminous Rains..." The oratorio is bracketed by a poem where each line is a concentrated step, building to a final lifing release. This is a liberating work, in every sense. Rosa would be honored.
Beyond modern classical admirers, this might also thrill fans of Paul Robeson, the Gershwins, Leonard Bernstein, Gil Evans, James Brown, Fela, John Coltrane, P-Funk, Stevie Wonder, Talking Heads, The Slits, Joe Strummer, Public Enemy, and Peter Gabriel."
Dear Mrs. Parks
S. A. Spencer | Chicago, IL | 02/03/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Hannibal Lokumbe's work presents an integration of the musical genres of classical, gospel, and jazz with an African touch. The musical tapestry of the work has historical significance. I feel that all of the participants: the Detroit Symphony, the Rackham Symphony Choir, the Brazeal Dennard Chorale and the featured solists highlight that musical tapestry! I was familiar with two of the featured soloists : Janice Chandler-Eteme and Jevetta Steele who both are very talented. I was not disappointed with my purchase.
I first heard Jevetta Steele's rich voice on the "Corrina, Corrina" movie soundtrack. After hearing Janice Chandler Eteme's solo
performance on Richard Smallwood's gospel cd "Journey:Live in New York," I was captivated by her operatic voice and artistry. I immediately looked for other works which featured Ms. Chandler-Eteme."