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4 star Jazzwise Review of Seven Deadly Sings

CD Review from Jazzwise, Issue 185, May 2014

**** (4 stars)

Hot on the heels of Soweto Kinch’s The Legend of Mike Smith, comes another treatment of the Seven Deadly sins, this one a 50-minute song suite for voice and septet by vocalist, composer and educator Louise Gibbs. Both in its conception and execution, 7 Deadly Sings (Gibbs’s fifth recording for 33Jazz) is an unqualified triumph. Each movement is inspired by the distinctive ‘voice’ of one of the instrumentalists, with the voice, naturally enough, featured first in a brief ‘Prologue’. Emerging out of an extended cymbal roll, we first hear Gibbs not actually singing at all but in a barely audible, sotto voce scream. It’s a hugely impactful opening. In the following seven movements, the listener is swept along by the combination of constantly shifting textures and powerful lyrics, nowhere more so than the expansive, Ellingtonian ‘Gluttony’ (‘Simmer discontentment till it boils/Squeeze the bitter essence of a peasant’s bony toil’). From the hard-edged lines of ‘Envy’ and the stasis of ‘Sloth’ to the insistent ostinato of ‘Anger’, 7 Deadly Sings grips you to the very end.

Peter Quinn