Laura Clark - Jazz Journal

June 20. 2020

★★★★

A Valentine’s day release date seems appropriate for Dan Loomis’s jazz oratorio, Job’s Trials: A Jazz Song Cycle. Commissioned by St Peter’s Church, NYC, the work is a loving testament to this Old Testament character and explores the question of why bad things happen to good people.

There are plenty of thought-provoking musical ideas and some theological ones too, with God represented as a woman in the final narration.

The opening number, The Woeful Conditions Of The Wager, has interesting folk undertones, featuring a lilting duet between Yoon Sun Choi and Song Yi Jeon with an old world meets new feel – Renaissance counterpoint meets NYC jazz café.

The sharply tormented scat cadenzas that come later occasionally made me wish Job’s suffering would come to an end, but maybe not for the right reasons.

The interplay between voices and instruments and extended vocal techniques get the sentiments of the story across, however. It’s clear things aren’t going well for Job, but it’s hard not to root more for Satan – with Hamilton star Daniel Breaker’s seraphic tones providing the narration.

Dan Loomis’s harmonies and Jeff Miles’s sweetly swinging style of playing were also no trial to listen to.

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