Friday, January 29, 2010


Given Jubilant Sykes recent triumph starring in Marin Alsop’s revival of Leonard Bernstein’s MASS for Naxos, I thought that posting Sykes’ 1993 Copland recital would be appropriately timed. Actually, the entire program is not dedicated to Copland’s music, despite the disc’s title. Traditional American spirituals comprise approximately half the running time. But they are well worth listening to and work well within the structure of Sykes’ presentation.

The singer’s musical partner on this recording is Andrew Litton, an American conductor who is extremely well-versed in Copland and the American vernacular in particular.

This is a charming CD and I feel that Sykes does a nice solid job with the “Old American Songs”, bringing enthusiasm and good humor to these old ditties, but with the weight and gravity required when needed. Enjoy! Scoredaddy

Jubilant Sykes’ bio: A classically trained baritone vocalist, Jubilant Sykes was a respected opera, jazz and spiritual vocalist of the late '90s. Sykes began his professional career in the early '90s. By 1996, his audience had grown substantially -- that year, he was named the Vocalist of the Year by Sacred Music USA. By the time he released his first album, Jubilant, on Sony Classical in the spring of 1998, he was a widely respected vocalist who had sung at the Metropolitan Opera and the Deutsche Oper Berlin, and had performed with the Boston Pops, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, among many other organizations. A sophomore effort, Wait For Me, was issued on Sony in summer 2001. Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Traditional Spirituals
1 City Called Heaven
2 Ride On, King Jesus
3 Were You There?
4 Weepin' Mary
5 Go Down, Moses
6 Leanin' On That Lamb
7 My God Is So high
8 Witness

Old American Songs by Aaron Copland
Set 1 (1950)
9 The Boatmen's Dance
10 The Dodger
11 Long Time Ago
12 Simple Gifts
13 I Bought Me a Cat

Set 2 (1952)
14 The Little Horses
15 Zion's Walls
16 The Golden Willow Tree
17 At The River
18 Ching-a-Ring Chaw

Jubilant Sykes (vocals)
London Symphony Orchestra, Andrew Litton, Conductor
Recorded at Abbey Road Studios, London, UK on March 30-31, 1993