Jubilant Sykes Sings Copland and Spirituals

Title: Jubilant Sykes Sings Copland and Spirituals

Artists: Jubilant Sykes, London Symphony Orchestra, Andrew Litton, cond.

Label: Arioso Classics

Formats: CD, MP3

Release date: October 12, 2010

Arioso recently reissued Jubilant Sykes’ 1994 album of Copland’s “Old American Songs” and traditional spirituals. Recorded at Abbey Road Studios on March 30-31, 1993, the American baritone was paired with the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Andrew Litton, a native New Yorker who specializes in American vernacular music. Included among the eight spirituals, which comprise half the album, are “Go Down, Moses,” “City Called Heaven,”  “Ride On, King Jesus,” and “Weepin’ Mary.”  Though Sykes is classically trained and has performed with various orchestras and opera companies, including the Metropolitan Opera, he is also a respectable jazz singer.  Consequently, his renditions of spirituals are extremely free flowing and often improvisational in nature, never reverting to the overtly operatic interpretations produced by many classical singers.  Equally free spirited are Copland’s “Old American Songs,” from the humorous “I Bought Me a Cat” to the closing “Ching-A-Ring Chaw.”

Surprisingly, this CD has garnered little attention and as of this date hasn’t even been added to Sykes’ All Music Guide discography.  Now that Arioso has made the CD available again, along with downloadable MP3 files, we are offered a second chance to add this very enjoyable music to our collections.

Reviewed by Brenda Nelson-Strauss