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SIG 083
Mass in Blue

Todd: Mass in Blue

The Classical Shop
release date: May 2007

Originally recorded in 2007


Jeremy Backhouse

Richard Henry

* bass trombone

Gareth Huw Davies

* double bass

Fleeman Jim

* drums

Bethany Halliday

* soprano

Matthew Turner

* timpani

Fayyaz Virji, Patrick Hartley

* trombones

Chris Storr, Dominic Glover

* trumpets

Adrian Revell, Ben Castle, Mike Smith

* woodwind & saxophones

Will Todd


Fiona McWilliams

soprano solo

Vasari Singers


The Warehouse, London

25 & 26 Feb 2006


Gareth Huw Davies & Will Todd


Gareth Huw Davies & Kevan Gallager

Record Label



Total Time - 64:12
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Mass in Blue

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Mass in Blue (Jazz Mass) Op. 28 *

1 Kyrie 6:39
2 Gloria 3:50
3 Credo 8:32
4 Sanctus 5:10
5 Benedictus 4:16
6 Agnus Dei 8:52

Christus est stella


The Christ-Child


Ave verum corpus


None other Lamb


The Rose


Lead me Lord

 Fiona McWilliams soprano solo

Lighting the way


Every stone shall cry


Mass in Blue, performed by ‘one of the most accomplished small choral groups of our time’ (Gramophone), is a brilliant blend of driving jazz grooves and clear, strong, choral writing against which the solo piano and solo soprano voice weave and blend in a delightful aural tapestry.

Leading young composer Will Todd performs a unique fusion of sacred choral music and jazz in his Mass in Blue. This central work is complemented by beautiful musical settings of religious texts, infused with a highly individual and melodic style, bringing the composer’s lifelong love of traditional choral music into the 21st century with spiritual sensitivity and a contemporary edge.

MusicWeb International, April 2008

This disc is quite a departure from the Vasari Singer’s usual repertoire and there can be no doubt that Jeremy Backhouse and his choir proselytise most effectively on Will Todd’s behalf. I find the music itself variable but that’s a subjective reaction which other listeners may not share. Even so I’d say Mass in Blue is well worth investigating and Will Todd’s music receives the strongest possible advocacy on this CD.

John Quinn

MusicWebInternational - April 2008

"The prolific output of British composer Will Todd (born 1970) includes many choral works alongside operas and oratorios. Here the Mass in Blue (in which the choir is joined by a jazz combo) is complemented by some tuneful and predominantly meditative choral miniatures, many originally written for amateur or young performers. The melding of the Latin Mass and jazz styles may not be to everybody’s taste, but the result is vibrant and colourful and is performed with vitality and commitment."  ****

John Kitchen


Choir & Organ Magazine - December 2006

"...The performances are excellent, as is the recording."

Robert Matther-Walker

Musical Opinion - September - October 2006

"...There you have it: a Jazz Mass (more Jazz than English mainstream) and a selection of Will Todd’s enjoyable choral pieces. Choral singers and directors (church and secular) on the lookout for enriching their choirs choice should get this as should anyone who appreciates a well-turned piece of sung music that brings off the balance between accessibility and sustained creative delight."

Rob Barnett

MuiscWebInternational - October 2006

"Jazz goes to church, for a Mass in Blue, praise the Lord"

"Liturgical jazz is nothing new: There have been worthy, if not particularly inspiring, sacred works by several accomplished jazz composers, including Jack Reilly, Michael Garrick, Dave Brubeck and Duke Ellington. Will Todd’s Mass in Blue, premiered in 2003 as Jazz Mass, is a very credible addition to that genre but, like its predecessors, provides little in the way of musical epiphanies or Damascene revelations. That said, it is an enjoyable listen. Todd clearly loves and understands jazz, qualities which don’t always go together in classically trained musicians professing an interest in what most dictionaries still hopelessly, inadequately and obsoletely define as garish, strongly-rhythmic, syncopated dance music. He does not use jazz forms and accents merely as exotic colourings but embraces their spirit and vibrancy. As a pianist, showcased especially well in the cadenza which opens the Kyrie and in the Sanctus, Todd is a respectable, workmanlike mainstream-modern player. There’s nothing to discommode anyone unwilling to come to terms with the developments of the last 50 years in jazz (or the past 95 years in classical music) but plenty to please listeners who appreciate skilful and entertaining writing. Todd is well served by the brass, reed and rhythm ensemble that joins the Vasari Singers for the Mass, and soprano Bethany Halliday solos with conviction.

The balance of the programme, with Todd accompanying on some tracks, comprises modest but effective settings of various psalms, poems and hymns. Mostly commissioned for school and church choirs, they are object lessons in economy and clarity, which the Vasari Singers perform impeccably."

Barry Witherden

Gramophone - Awards Issue 2006

"From the moment Gounod published the big beat Credo of his Messe solennelle de Sainte Cécile the affinity between the cadences of the latin mass and modern rhythmic music became apparent.

With his Mass in Blue Will Todd seizes these opportunities with gusto in a work of considerable depth and complexity.

The introduction to the Kyrie, for piano and orchestra, is overtly reminiscent of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with just a hint of Scott Joplin, but soon the perspective opens up to display a myriad of influences.

The Gloria has a simple plainchant opening before the voice of the soprano soloist floats apparently effortlessly above the ensemble. Todd writes with bold simplicity for the choir, and has the confidence to introduce some highly original harmonies and tempi.

Nonetheless, he adheres faithfully to the spirit of the Tridentine Mass and the clarity of words from both choir and soloist is exemplary. The work builds up to an extended Agnus Dei and a deeply satisfying conclusion."

Serena Fenwick - September 2006

"Will Todd’s Mass In Blue is a curious yet beguiling work that blends jazz and classical choral singing to stunning effect. Although it’s a bit odd hearing the Kyrie and Agnus Dei sounding like something that could be drifting out of a smoky speakeasy, once you get over the shock, it’s an addictive listen."

The Daily Express - 15 September 2006

Performances are excellent throughout, and the music becomes more absorbing on every playing. Fans of high-quality choral singing should not miss the opportunity to grab this with both hands as soon as possible.
Shirley Ratcliffe -

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