Gloria – jazz-suite by Sylvain Picard
Gloria is ten films for the ears played by four musical accomplices. This luxuriant 10 movement jazz-suite explores the shimmering human adventure.
“As far as I can remember, I noticed that music has the power to unite people, reminesces Sylvain Picard. Independently from their origins or their beliefs, during a concert, music will bring people together and unite them. In this communion state, music will bring them in a thousand directions. To use an expression passed on to me by the great pianist Bruno Fecteau, music lives and makes vibrate the “poetic space” of the human being. My goal with Gloria is to touch that poetic space whether it be in a prosperous business woman, an homeless elder, an aspiring politician, a nurse, a construction worker, a street worker, etc. The focus is on the emotions and fortunately these music will contribute to the creation of a state delightful introspection and celebration.”
GLORIA was commissioned to Sylvain Picard by the Gesù Church (Montréal, Québec). It’s goal: create a jazz-mass that respects every aspect of the Roman Catholic traditional mass. For example: in the introduction just before the Eucharist, there is the Introït, a slow and calming piece conductive to creating a meditative atmosphere. Following is the Kyrie, a poignant and heartbreaking piece, like a scar behind the human shell. After that comes the Gloria, which is a joyous piece that is oriented towards the divine. Then the Psalm, which is a struggle between despondency vs hope, anxiety and confidence. And so on.
Sacred music tradition goes back a long way. Bach, Mozart, Stravinsky and many others have composed superb offerings. On the jazz side, Duke Ellington composed major sacred works and Charles Mingus often made tongue in cheek reference to it. With standards in mind, composing a mass represented quite a challenge for Sylvain Picard. Instead of flinching under the pressure to do as good or better than those immortals, he decided to focus on the translation of emotions as closely and honestly as possible, not in a competition spirit but in a sincere and joyous sharing state of mind. With this idea music always imposed itself, feeling having precedence over style.
In order to fully benefit from the exceptional acoustic of the Gesù Church (8 seconds of reverb…), Sylvain Picard made the choice to use a drumless quartet. A great example of such an ensemble is featured on Angel Song, an essential Kenny Wheeler album.
In order to translate the feeling and narrative of each piece, Sylvain Picard surrounded himself with experienced and sensible musicians. First, on tenor and soprano saxophone we find the energetically contagious Yannick Rieu. Then, on trumpet and flugelhorn, with a sometimes rich and soothing, or roaring and screeching sound is Maxime St-Pierre. To propel the ensemble forward is an accompanist with a satin touch doubled by a powerful drive, Guy « de velours » Boisvert. Sylvain Picard colors the sonic landscapes on the guitar.
There are dream catchers, there are also sound catchers. Rob « Bobby Knobs » Heaney (who won a Grammy award this year) is one of them. His accomplice Mathieu Dulong contributed to the capture of the sonar pulsations.
Description of each movement of the suite
Introït Suite souveraine : L’heure de pointe / Recueillement / Déambulation d’été
Gloria’s first musical act opens at rush hour [l’heure de pointe] where it threads it’s way between the cars on down-town’s burning concrete; it then proceeds home to collect it’s thoughts (reflection [Recueillement]), after which it goes on with a feast where all are welcome: children play and run around, wine drips afloat, the tablecloth gets caught in the wind and we find ourselves walking in the midst of those festivities, it is the summer wandering [Déambulation d’été].
Kyrie Une brûlure indicible
Each one of us carries with him/her secrets: some arouse rejoicing, others pain. The Kyrie musically represents a secret ache that can be a burden for the one who carries it. Emotions associated with it can be heart-rending until we have made peace with ourselves.
The Gloria is like the calm after the storm, once the clouds have dispersed and left a blue sky, the water of the downpour has evaporated, the leaves of the trees reflect a striking green, the nature palpitates, the life in which we live explodes into the heat of the plexus. This is the Gloria.
Psalm Le chant du peuple
It happens during certain holidays or popular uprising that citizens gather and sing songs in order to exult joy, to show it’s discontent or everything in between. The Psalm is that people’s chant.
Alléluia ! It’s what some people say when they feel an intense happiness. In the introduction of the piece I tried to musically represent the invigorating sensation we feel while contemplating lights and shadows on the leaves, flowers and fruits of a luxuriant tree. Afterwards, for the main melody, I tried to translate that uplifting feeling, that ferocious and contagious joy, not in contemplation but in an active setting.
Offertoire Seul dans le doute
One day or the other we find ourselves in bereavement, it might be for a loved one, from a relationship, an activity, no one can escape it. It sometimes happen that we lose the points of reference that were guiding us towards tomorrow. I tried to convey that introspection state in the Offertoire.
Sanctus Chemin faisant
In Sanctus, I was inspired by the orange colors of the sunrise, of which the first rays settle on the thorns of the conifers and their sweet fragrance, on blades of grass where droplets of dew pearl, meanwhile the bakers are busy working close to their stove. Our senses are made to delight themselves from those nature offerings.
Agnus dei Contemplant les crevasses du temps
Here, the subtitle on the partition is “hope that walks on egg shells”…
Action de grâce Les chatouilles et le jeu
It is that moment of tenderness and game that only happens after love; like children getting accustomed to each other while playing.
Outroït Mille plaisirs
Departure: after having feasted and shared stories, jokes and anecdotes we greet the gathering and leave light heartedly.