By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
Through the rest of the service, Schif rin follows up each unusual effect with another one just as inventive: The antiphonal interplay of harp, choir and clarinet on "Gloria" creates an intellectual tension. The random ascent of multiple voices on "Credo"shows how diver- sity can create wild union despite itself.
The primitive, jarring chants of "Sanctus" underline the otherness of holiness. The organ-based "Prayer" de mon strates the emo tional sources of most supplication: suffering, yearning and uncertainty. And the spooky piano and vibraphone of "Offertory" reflect the uncrackable mystery of the "body of Christ" the priest displays in this section of the Mass. It’s a complex, thoughtful and very successful expression. And half the time, it jams like crazy.
At age 66, Schifrin is consolidating a staggeringly productive career. The most dynamic and musical of film and television scorers (Dirty Harry, Bullitt, Mission: Impossible, dozens more), a top-rank jazz pianist-composer (with Dizzy Gillespie, Quincy Jones and Cannonball Adderley, among many others), and a sought-after semiclassical composer and conductor (London Philharmonic, Vienna Sym phony, L.A. Philharmonic, etc.), the longtime L.A. resident seemed to have few mountains left to climb, yet hit new peaks last year with excellent soundtracks to Tango and Rush Hour, and started his own record label, Aleph, to showcase his output. Gloria in excelsis, vaquero.
Since no discussion of devotional music should exclude the Mother of God, it’s fortunate that L.A.’s Cleopatra Records has scheduled Virgin Voices: A Tribute to Madonna, Volume One for April release. Scoff though you may at the prospect of numerous pop artists analyzing the many controversial facets of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s life and influence, you will find many of their perceptions provocative.
Overall, Tribute is a celebratory dance album, led off by Heaven 17 eloquently summing up the position of the church fathers who instituted Mary’s August 15 Feast of the Assumption: "(We Need a) Holiday." Loleatta Holloway then offers up the soul-deep, reverent Ave Maria "Like a Prayer," followed by Annabella Lwin’s bubbly emulation of the BVM, "Like a Virgin."
After that, the veneration gives way to some boldly revisionist forays. On "Bad Girl," James Hardway, Amanda Ghost and Boy George embrace the contentious "fallen woman" theory of Mary’s motherhood: Our Lady is made to label herself a "bad girl, drunk by 6," who tells her divine progeny, "You’ll always be my baby," while admitting, "I know I don’t deserve you." On "Justify My Love," Front line Assembly guest vocalist Kristy Thirsk, after narcotized susurrations about finding herself "naked in a rainstorm," transgresses even further, declaring, "I don’t want to be your mother" and encouraging genital stirrings wholly inappropriate to the subject. The defilement reaches a kind of Gehenna with KMFDM’s rusty industrial noise fest "Material Girl," which features a perverted male voice contesting not only the Blessed Virgin’s spiritual credentials but her very femininity: "We are living in a material world, and I," he growls on her behalf with maximum testosterone, "am a material girl."
For a more edifying examination of Mary’s struggle, consult the synoptic Gospels and perhaps "The Infancy Gospel of James," a pious second-century pseudepigraphal speculation on the details of her life, available with background and commentary in 1997’s The Life of Mary and Birth of Jesus (Ulysses Press). If it’s true, as the book claims, that 2 billion Hail Marys are offered up daily, a little fundamental understanding is the least we can attempt.
Álexi’sThe Mystery is available from City Hall Records, 25 Tiburon St., San Rafael, CA 94901; his Web site is at http://www.alexi.net
Lalo Schifrin’s Web site is at http://www.schifrin.com.
Numerous links to Virgin Mary Web sites can be found at http://www.catholic.org/mary/marylink.html.