In 2008, nine-time GRAMMY Award winner Wynton Marsalis was commissioned to write a piece commemorating the 200th anniversary of Harlem s Abyssinian Baptist Church. The result was a sacred celebration: a sweeping composition for a big band and 70-piece gospel choir. In 2013, award-winning recording artist Damien Sneed and his choir, Chorale Le Chateau, joined the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis on a 16-city, 19-show tour across the American south and into deep dialogue with the African American history. Now, The Abyssinian Mass Marsalis s first original recorded composition in six years documents this piece s immense power to make audiences clap their hands and sing along to its joyous spirituality, its profound swing, and its bluesy swagger.
This landmark double album also includes a new essay from renowned public intellectual Leon Wieseltier and a bonus DVD documentary that features performances, interviews, and insights into the process behind The Abyssinian Mass. The album s exploration of the African American experience places it in the tradition of Marsalis's Pulitzer Prize-winning composition and record Blood on the Fields. As The Abyssinian Mass reminds us, In this great land of ours, everyone has a place. No matter your faith or background, The Abyssinian Mass is a sprawling, soulful triumph and a swinging affirmation of just how good being human can feel.