Angel Bat Dawid: Requiem for Jazz review – a cosmic brew

(International Anthem)
Capturing the full power of a live 2019 performance, the Chicago musician channels a 1959 film and Sun Ra with her potent jazz-classical suite

It may seem odd that someone has written a requiem for jazz when it seems to be in rude health. But Angel Bat Dawid’s third album is inspired by the 1959 film The Cry for Jazz, an audiovisual essay that, among other prescient comments on race and appropriation, makes the case that the art form is dead but its spirit lives on. As bandleader, composer, clarinettist and all-round tour de force based in Chicago, where the film was set, Dawid responds to this idea with the radical vision of time traveller Sun Ra, who composed the film’s soundtrack. The result is a potent ancestral jazz-classical suite linking past, present and future.

Largely recorded at Hyde Park jazz festival in Chicago in 2019 and echoing a Catholic mass for the dead, this 24-track work is guided by the film’s themes of repression versus joy, with some incredible vocal performances from members of the city’s Black Monument Ensemble. It’s highly theatrical, sometimes bracingly so, and Dawid has further added beat-driven intermissions in post-production and a track recorded with Sun Ra Arkestra’s Marshall Allen and Knoel Scott.

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