Job’s Trials: A Jazz Song Cycle is an evocative musical dive into an ancient, universal story exploring why bad things happen to good people. Job stands up for his truth and dares to hold God to account. Loomis brings his unique compositional voice and signature soulful bass-playing to the new jazz song cycle form that he developed to bring this story alive. The fullness of the album examines the most perplexing and powerful themes from the story: the ephemeral value of a virtuous life, the injustice of suffering and the righteousness of rebellion.
This record, an ambitious step forward for Loomis from his first two records, reaches into uncharted formal and sonic territory create an novel and thought-provoking artistic experience. The unique ensemble bringing this album to life consists of two outlandishly soulful singers, Song Yi Jeon and Yoon Sun Choi; a visionary guitarist, Jeff Miles; and NYC’s favorite beast on the drums, Jared Schonig. The composer and bassist, Dan Loomis, uses a unique new format based on a classical song cycle recast using the passionate language of jazz and amplified with theatrical narration. Each song presents an essential, thought-provoking theme from the Book of Job, setting music to original text. Stepping in for the role of narrator, linking the events from each song (and going through a transformative experience himself) is the character of Satan, played by Broadway star (leads in Hamilton, Book of Mormon and Passing Strange) Daniel Breaker.
This ancient story finds an essential new voice through the medium of Black American Music. Job’s journey of embracing his despair until it’s brings comfort or transformation is the familiar arc of a Blues performance. Jazz, with its essential elements of ambiguity and pathos, provides the creative and emotional tools to delve into this difficult story from a modern perspective. Setting the story in this musical vernacular uniquely highlights the revolution inherent in Job’s demand of God. He changed his paradigm by demanding God be held to account a higher sense of justice.
The composition on this album draws on this rich jazz tradition while simultaneously pushing beyond all borders to establish its own artistic landscape and voice. Loomis deploys an array of infectious grooves inspired by modern jazz, rich melodies borrowing from both blues and art song and sonic textures from the most delicately chamber settings to the wildest electronic layerings. Loomis draws on his ensemble’s equal ease in delivering angelic choral textures and the most adventurous improvised flights. The result grabs the listener’s attention and continues to delight and challenge to the very last note. In both form and content this piece is truly unlike anything else in the jazz or classical cannon.
Our society at historic crossroads and sorely in need of revolutionary spirit. So many of the institutions that we look at a simply our way of life are at or nearing their breaking point. From our polarized pseudo-democratic system of government to the extreme stratification of wealth to the accepted obsession with proits to the radical unsustainability of our food industry, the most important areas of our life as a nation are desperately in need of not just a new direction, but a complete overthrow of the existing paradigm.
Yet this level desperation is difficult to feel day to day. As long as we are not personally out on the street from a collapse of markets or personally battling cancer or diabetes from contaminated or poor diets, most of us lead a very comfortable life in the USA. We may feel frustrated with politics, worried about markets for a few years or sad when a loved one battles cancer, but the over-arching availability of entertainment, rich food and credit can easily distract us back into feeling that there is nothing too much to worry about.
REVOLUTIONS aims to keep the revolutionary vision and spirit alive in America. To keep awake to the willingness to turn the old way on its head and do the messy, hard work of starting over to build something better. So much what is normal and important to us today was accomplished by people who had to imagine a world totally outside their experience and then had the unflappable persistence to see their vision through. We intend to keep that spirit alive by honoring those essential actors in American (in the broad sense of the term, South and North America, indeed all the Western Hemisphere -- bound together by our shared legacy of recent colonialism, population replacement, slavery and revolution from imperial oppression) revolutionary moments and movements. Our American history is rich with people who fought tirelessly for a world that seemed impossible given the parameters that they grew up with. We intend to keep that spirit of achieving the impossible, of overcoming intractable obstacles of tradition, alive by lifting up their lives and stories.
Of course, REVOLUTIONS is not a history class or a political rally. It is a musical ensemble. And how can a musical ensemble tell the story of history and recount the power of revolution?? Of course, we cannot do it in the traditional way. But to bring revolution it is necessary not only to know your history (to know where you are coming from to so that you can see where you are going) but also to have an overwhelming depth of feeling to move you forward. What better way to strive forward into the revolutionary unknown than with the abstract medium of music. What better way to kindle the all-consuming desire to move forward past the immediately possible present to the audaciously improbable future?
To put it another way, it is the historians and activists job to lay out and illuminate the facts of history in a clear, linear way so that we all can follow the thread of the story to our current moment and imagine the way forward. But our minds also require a kind of inspiration that is not purely logical and does not follow a straight line. This is the inspiration that music directly appeals to. Music, the most abstract of arts, speaks directly to that non-linear place in our souls and can inspire us to make the leap forward to logic cannot do alone.