Champs Hill HR 047
Ex-Mass – David Rees-Williams Trio
In the spirit of Yuletide, David Rees-Williams takes Christmas melodies and transforms them via his eclectic musical sensibility – a kind of musical alchemy.
The David Rees-Williams Trio, featuring David Rees-Williams, Neil Francis, and Phil Laslett, was formed in 1988. Based in Canterbury, it has performed at a variety of concerts and festivals over the years and now specialises in a programme that unites the best of classical and jazz.
These transformations include Stille Nacht, usually suggesting a peaceful snowy scene, but this rendition imagines the carol’s alter-ego as cold, scary, and full of mystery. Bach’s sorrowful Erbarm’ dich mein is turned into a no-holds-barred humorous arrangement. Canonic patterns, improvisation, eastern-European folk modes, film music, and jazz are all part of the Rees-Williams musical engine, too.
This recording brings together a wide range of Christmas melodies, allowing mediaeval tunes to rub shoulders with prog-rock, street samba, and blues in a manner unique to the David Rees-Williams Trio. Although the title Ex-Mass is a wordplay on the obvious ‘Xmas’, the Latin prefix also suggests that the music is removed from its normal place. The compilation avoids the obvious and concentrates on other beautiful and seasonally relevant melodies, from the ancient to the more modern.