This is an amazing re-take on Handel's inspired work, streets ahead of the very 80s-sounding version which came out before it (Handel's Young Messiah). It's such an effective collaboration of hot musicians and conglomeration of afro-american musical styles. Highlights as follows:
*The Overture (Track 1): a terrific hasty journey through the history of black music, including spiritual, ragtime, gospel, disco, hip-hop... and all using Handel's original tune!
*"But Who May Abide" (Track 5): the original alto/bass aria (depending on which edition you read from), but adapted by Patti Austin. Her vocals are outstanding - full of soul and integrity. The BV's are unbelievably good too.
*"O Thou that Tellest" (Track 8): the original alto aria, adapted by Take 6 and Stevie Wonder - so how could it possibly go wrong? Well, it doesn't! Close harmony and Stevie's classic voice - oh, yeah...
*"For Unto Us a Child is Born" (Track 9): the original opening chorus, shifted a little later into the work, and sung by Sounds of Blackness. Still very recognisable, but with more funky rhythms - and partly sung in Swahili!!
*"Why do the Nations So Furiously Rage Together?" (Track 14): The original bass aria, arranged by Mervyn Warren for big band (and WHAT A BIG BAND IT IS - Buddy Rich would be proud), with lead vocals by Al Jarreau. This one REALLY cooks!
If you have not yet seen the signs, there are some stunningly awesome muzos on this album, and the result is amazing! I have to add, as a great fan of the original work (preferably with Baroque period instruments), this CD is a great compliment to Handel - who (fortunately!) recognised the importance of his composition, and encouraged future composers to keep adapting it to suit the times. This succeeds - and then some!