Mass in Blue

Mass in Blue

Mass in Blue

Guildford Cathedral

Guildford Cathedral

When you dream, you can enjoy the luxury of being yourself. Make it a reality. — Paulo Coelho

Mass in Blue at Guildford Cathedral, with Will Todd Trio, a sax player, Bethany Halliday on lead vocals, Guildford Choral conducted by Jonathan Willcocks.

The first half was split in two.

South African songs sung by Guildford Choral. On a rough head count there was somewhere between 50-60 of them. It did not work. I would rather have had a South African choir from one of the townships.

Most of the first half was filled by the Will Todd Trio, a sax player, Bethany Halliday on lead vocals. It is a pity they did not have the entire first half as they were excellent.

They started with a haunting number that opened with the sax player. It sent shivers down the spine. He really used the acoustics of the cathedral.

Somewhere over the Rainbow, did not work, excellent vocalist as she is, Bethany Halliday had not the right voice, and the fiddly jazz bits in the background were an irritation, though the improvisation in the middle, was actually quite good.

A boring jazz number, where all jazz sounds the same.

I have seen Gershwin murdered, as two pianists did last year, they even managed to murder Bernstein, but can Gershwin be improved upon? I would have answered no, until I heard the Will Todd Trio and friends perform Summertime. Another number that sent shivers down the spine. They captured the pathos of the piece.

It is a pity Will Todd Trio and friends did not occupy the entire first half. House of the Rising Sun would be an excellent number to add. Sunshine of Your Love another.

All can be found on Sounds of Freedom.

I picked up Sounds of Freedom. I was a little disappointed. Nothing wrong with it, the quality of the recording is excellent, but studio always lacks something of a live performance. And it does not have the sax player. Ironically, Somewhere over the Rainbow, is better on the album than it was live. An absolute must is a live recording with the sax player, released on bandcamp. But still an album worth having.

The second half was Mass in Blue, written by Will Todd. He said think of jazz crashes into Latin choral. Will Todd Trio and friends, plus Guildford Choral conducted by Jonathan Willcocks.

Will Todd explained that this has by far been his most successful composition, and he wondered why. Put yourself into the music, and be true to yourself. Exactly, do not bastardise yourself just to get a record deal (to then get ripped off by the record company).

Jazz meets choral yes, but more blues than jazz. A strong Gershwin influence could be heard.

An encore was needed. I suggested with the line-up, Stairway to Heaven.

I do not know who introduced the concert, I do not think it was the Bishop, but who ever it was, he said feel free to dance. That is what was missing, dancers. They needed a few dancers at the front.

Looking at the jazz line-up, the Will Todd Trio, Bethany Halliday and the sax player, add Steve Lawson (bass) and Zoe Keating (cello) and it would make an amazing line-up for a concert in St Mary’s, or at the Wimbledon Music Festival in November.

To Will Todd’s credit, he was down to earth, explained what he was doing, then after the concert, he mingled, chatted, and signed CDs.

Long gone are the days when musicians can stand aloof from their audience. If people have gone out of their way and paid to attend a concert, the least the performers can do, is mingle, as without the support of those people, they would not be able to do what they love doing, which is to play music.

I had a long chat with both Hannah who was selling the CDs and Will Todd.

I said for the future use crowdsourcing and community supported music. Not to be confused with sponsorship. Corporate sponsorship is killing culture. Release music on bandcamp.

Bandcamp is an absolute must, as people can hear the music in its entirety, a few seconds mp3 lofi sample on iTunes or Amazon is a waste of time. And for the quality of the recordings Will Todd is making, you need FLAC, a non-lossy compression format.

And people can share. They can go to a concert, with one click, share with their friends what the music they enjoyed that evening.

Will Todd is currently working on an opera relating to Alice in Wonderland, which should be interesting. He has released one track on iTunes. Er, no, the ideal place for single tracks, or work in progress, is soundcloud.

After the concert I picked up signed copies of Sounds of Freedom and Mass in Blue, signed by Will Todd and Bethany Halliday.

I lit a candle for Paulo Coelho and Annie.

Synchronicity: Speaking to Hannah, she said she had read Eleven Minutes. I have just finished reading Eleven Minutes.

Will Todd (1970- ), composer and jazz pianist, has been playing the piano since he was three and composing since he was seven years old. The Will Todd Ensemble recorded Mass in Blue with the Vasari Singers for Signum Records. The Call of Wisdom was commissioned by St Paul’s Cathedral for the Diamond Jubilee Thanksgiving Service in June 2012. Sounds of Freedom is jazz with Will Todd Trio. Will Todd is currently working on an opera for Alice in Wonderland.

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