Job’s Trials: A Jazz Song Cycle by bassist/composer, Dan Loomis is an evocative musical dive into an ancient, universal story exploring why bad things happen to good people. Job stands up for his truth and dares to hold God to account. Loomis brings his unique compositional voice and signature soulful bass-playing to the new jazz song cycle form that he developed to bring this story alive. The fullness of the album examines the most perplexing and powerful themes from the story: the ephemeral value of a virtuous life, the injustice of suffering and the righteousness of rebellion.
This record, an ambitious step forward for Loomis from his first two records, reaches into uncharted formal and sonic territory create an novel and thought-provoking artistic experience. The unique ensemble bringing this album to life consists of two outlandishly soulful singers, Song Yi Jeon and Yoon Sun Choi; a visionary guitarist, Jeff Miles; and NYC’s favorite beast on the drums, Jared Schonig. The composer and bassist, Dan Loomis, uses a unique new format based on a classical song cycle recast using the passionate language of jazz and amplified with theatrical narration. Each song presents an essential, thought-provoking theme from the Book of Job, setting music to original text. Stepping in for the role of narrator, linking the events from each song (and going through a transformative experience himself) is the character of Satan, played by Broadway star (leads in Hamilton, Book of Mormon and Passing Strange) Daniel Breaker.
This ancient story finds an essential new voice through the medium of Black American Music. Job’s journey of embracing his despair until it’s brings comfort or transformation is the familiar arc of a Blues performance. Jazz, with its essential elements of ambiguity and pathos, provides the creative and emotional tools to delve into this difficult story from a modern perspective. Setting the story in this musical vernacular uniquely highlights the revolution inherent in Job’s demand of God. He changed his paradigm by demanding God be held to account a higher sense of justice.
The composition on this album draws on this rich jazz tradition while simultaneously pushing beyond all borders to establish its own artistic landscape and voice. Loomis deploys an array of infectious grooves inspired by modern jazz, rich melodies borrowing from both blues and art song and sonic textures from the most delicately chamber settings to the wildest electronic layerings. Loomis draws on his ensemble’s equal ease in delivering angelic choral textures and the most adventurous improvised flights. The result grabs the listener’s attention and continues to delight and challenge to the very last note. In both form and content this piece is truly unlike anything else in the jazz or classical cannon.
released February 14, 2020
Dan Loomis - Contrabass, Composition and Script
Voice - Yoon Sun Choi
Voice - Song Yi Jeon
Guitar - Jeff Miles
Drums - Jared Schonig
Narration & Voice - Daniel Breaker
Tracks 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14
Recorded at Big Orange Sheep by Chris Benham
Mixed at Systems Two by Mike Marciano
Mastered by Nate Wood
Tracks 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13
Recorded and mixed at Park West Studios by James Clouse
Mastered by Nate Wood at Kerseboom Mastering
Producer - Dan Loomis
Executive Producer - Chris & Claudia Murray
Track Name: our narrator, Ha Satan, proposes a bet
Welcome. We are here to look at an interesting story of a man named Job. I am Ha Satan, also know as The Adversary. This whole story came about from a little bet between me and my old friend, God. A bet that it looks like I won.... but Job got caught in the middle.
Now things are good Job in the beginning... a rich and righteous man with lands and family. Let’s take moment to appreciate the good times......
Track Name: the woeful conditions of the wager
Ok, so that’s over with. According to my little bet with God, I got to destroy all Job’s posses- sions and kill his children. The idea was that losing everything should be enough to turn Job away from his righteousness and get him to curse God.
But Job doesn’t curse God, he knows what to do. He’s studied for this moment. He’s ready. He gets down on his knees and says, “Naked I have come from my mother’s womb and naked I return. The Lord has given and the Lord has taken away. Let the name of the Lord be praised.” Round one to Job.
Track Name: Naked Return
Naked I have come from my mother’s womb and naked I return.
The Lord has given and the Lord has taken away.
The name of the Lord be praised.
Track Name: an answer arrives unheeded; Job's lament
So things go from bad to worse for Job. I get to afflict him with some nasty plague boils. And as he is sitting in the ashes of his family and his house, picking his rotting skin, his wife comes to him asks, “Why are you holding onto this foolish faith? What has it ever done for you? You should curse God… and die!” But Job doesn’t curse God. But from this point on, he develops a serious dissatisfaction with his situation and his creator.
But we don’t hear that yet. We just hear Job’s pain. He’s crying out that his suffering won’t be forgotten…. that it won’t be in vain. He says, “Oh Earth, do not cover my blood. May my cries never be laid to rest.”
Track Name: Do Not Cover my Blood
My face is red with weeping. Deep shadows ring my eyes. Yet my hands have been free from violence. My prayer is pure.
Oh Earth, do not cover my blood. May my cries never be laid to rest.
Track Name: Job's Blues
JOB 11:7 - ZOPHAR speaks:
Can you fathom the mysteries of God? They are higher than the sky — what can you do? They are deep than the grave — what can you say?
JOB 7:7 - JOB speaks:
Remember, O God, that my life is but a breath. The eyes that see me will see me no longer. You will look for me but I will be gone.
JOB 5:17 - ELIPHAZ speaks:
For blest is the man who God corrects. Despise not the chastening of the almighty father. For he woundeth but he also heals.
JOB 9:33 - JOB speaks:
For he is not a man as I am that I should answer him. Nor is there a judge between us to lay a hand upon us both. Then I would speak and not fear but now it is not so.
Track Name: appeal to a higher power
Ok, so now Job is really at the edge. And everyone who wants to say that Job doesn’t curse God… that God won our little bet… has got to have an issue with this. Now I appreciate the legal and semantic ins and out… but here’s where Job curses the day he was born, he wishes that he’d never been created.
Then he says what he really wants is an audience with God. He says to his friends, I know the arguments that you have made to me… I’ve made these arguments myself. But now it’s come to me… and I want the answer to why. He says, “My eyes have seen all this and understood it. What you know, I also know. But I desire to take my case to a higher power. To argue my case with God.”
Track Name: Consider This: A Higher Power
JOB 4:7 - ELIPHAZ rebukes JOB’s lament:
Consider this, who being innocent has ever perished? Or were the upright cut down?
The stumbling ones have thy words raised up. The bowed knee though has straightened. But now it comes to you and though art weary, now it comes to you and thou art troubled!
Job 13:1 - JOB responds to his friends:
My eyes have seen all this and understood it. What you know, I also know. But I desire to take my case to a Higher Power, to argue my case with God.
Track Name: "Do you know where the light comes from?"
So Job has thrown down the gauntlet. And God takes it up. This is where is looks like I’ve won the bet. I mean, what could be a clearer rebuke of God than questioning his wisdom and justice?
So God comes down in his thundercloud. “Who are you to talk to me? Where were you when I made the world? Can you move the waters? Did you put the stars in the sky? Have you seen my Leviathan?” That kind of thing… finally it seems like God is rebuking Job. He comes down and says, “Do you know where the light comes from? Can you show darkness the way home?”
Track Name: Words Without Knowledge
JOB 38:2 - GOD speaks:
Who is this who darkens my counsel with words without knowledge?
JOB 38:19 - GOD speaks:
Do you know where the light comes from?
Can you show darkness the way home?
Track Name: wondering on the wager.... who spoke rightly?
In the end, God does something rather unexpected. She comes down from her thundercloud and forgives Job. She not only forgives Job, but she says that Job has spoken rightly of her. And all those friends, who know all the answers, they have spoken wrongly of her. So …. who won our bet?? Did Job remain faithful?? Was Job right to question God? Was he rewarded for his resistance?
I don’t know. It’s been so many years…..
Track Name: Dear Lord
OB 40:5 - JOB speaks to GOD:
What shall I say to you? I put my hand upon my mouth.
Now I have spoken once but I have no answer; twice, but I will proceed no further.
JOB 38:12 - GOD speaks to JOB:
Where you there when I laid the earth’s foundation? Who shut the seas behinds the doors when it burst forth from the womb?
Have you ever given orders to the dawning? To take the earth by the edges and shake out the wicked?
Tell me if you understand.
Flutist and composer Nicole Mitchell tackles this eight-movement work with a drumless chamber quartet featuring some of the most forceful voices in improvised music. Bandcamp Album of the Day Aug 6, 2018