Neil Blumofe, vocals; Jason Marsalis, drums; Roland Guerin, bass; Mark Miller, bass; Fred Sanders, piano; Mark Devine, piano; Derek Douget, tenor saxophone; Samir Zarif, baritone saxophone; Alex Coke, tenor saxophone, flute; Ben Saffer, clarinet, bass clarinet; Maurice Brown, trumpet; Milam Moorman, trumpet
This is a very unusual production in that it successfully attempts to translate the suffering of the Jewish people in the 20th century into the music of Jazz, using the ancient story of Moses as vehicle to tell these complex tales. The liner notes explain "In this telling, we present this sacred tale [the journey and life of Moses] in the American vernacular - the pulse of jazz. The sacred chants of the synagogue form a natural union with Jazz." I was stunned about the musical richness and intellectual depths offered by this production. Cantor Neil Blumofe, who composed all tracks, is a magical story teller, outstanding musician and sensible teacher. This is not an album to consume casually and I promise that the more often you listen, the more you will hear and find reward in becoming part of a unique Jazz experience. The extensive liner notes contain detailed explanations for each tune, making Moses' Muses an experience for mind, soul, and ears alike. My personal favorite is "Mt. Nebo" which mourns and celebrates the death of Moses and - in the Jazz analogy context - honors the New Orleans funeral traditions. Jason Marsalis' drumming on this track is nothing short of fabulous. He displays a lot of talent as a forceful, yet sensitive leader of the rhythm section throughout the album. I would like to close this review with another quote from the liner notes "Jazz is a vital music, informing the realism of the American experience, each note a lesson, collectively, swinging us forward. Jazz is deep enough to question, wide enough to hold us together." Enjoy!
By Kate Kaiser