Jazz musicians, many of whom started playing in church, are no strangers to spiritual works, whether overtly religious large-ensemble pieces by Duke Ellington and Dave Brubeck, or the likes of John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme.” Christian worship clearly is at the heart of double- bassist Ike Sturm’s Jazz Mass, ten devotional pieces running from the prayerful “Kyrie” to the closing processional, “Hymn: Shine.” But the music, which sometimes hints at ECM-label spaciousness and Metheny-esque heartland Americana, isn’t strictly for believers. Sturm, jazz ministry directory at Saint Peter’s Church, the spiritual home of Manhattan’s jazz community, brings together a 14-member choir and 10- piece string section with classically trained singer Misty Ann Sturm and such standout soloists as tenor saxophonist Donny McCaslin and trumpeter Ingrid Jensen for music of extraordinary emotion and beauty. His improvised solo, “Interlude,” is a resonant gem, marked by quick chord crawls, flashes of dissonance, and then a quietly insistent groove.
Rufus Reid, Out Front [Motema]
Beefy tone, impeccable technique, likeclockwork time and melodic, adventurous solos have defined Rufus Reid’s work on thousands of recordings, and it’s inspiring to hear the veteran upright player and educator lead a jazz power trio as potent as his new Out Front group.