As I was making my way through the Chris Hinze discography for attempted completion (for which success is slated circa October 2079), I noticed this item and thought, please tell me it's not related to the Wagnerian opera with its embarassing fantasies (I here tactfully avoid use of the freudian word 'auto-erotic' often used in conjunction with this phrase and subject) of teutonic supremacy for which reason, along with the loathsome tautologies and indescribable boringness of his music, I now am utterly averse to this composer... but no, it's not related in any way to Parsifal the opera -- in fact it's one of those apollo moon landing attempts at combining jazz and classical with composed and improvised elements to craft a jazz-opera in double-LP format, back when the future was so beautifully bright for intelligent and adventurous and masterfully composed music--! and bell-bottoms, polyester suits, moon rocks, and Bill Crosby's Kool-aid (without the postmodern mass-death-irony of Jonestown's spiking) ruled the day... oh happy times....
How could this formidable accomplishment (in an operatic box no less, not foldout sleeve) be so forgotten, abandoned by the wayside like the detritus of a fast food picnic, even in the realms of jazz? Possibly because it's terrible and deserves to be forgotten? Not likely if it includes such luminaries as Jiggs Whigham, Gerry Brown on drums, Charlie Mariano on saxes, Michael Becker, and the whole apparatus composed and arranged entirely by Chris!
But you can judge for yourself if this is alike to the aforementioned hamburger wrapper or instead Hinze's magnum opus lost to history... I have recorded it for your enjoyment and in the end, you decide... is this cd-worthy or delete-bin-worthy? My own opinion is obvious, I spent several hours in an attempt at properly cutting the chapters into tracks that could be more easily enjoyed... but we need a master shige or should I say, remaster shige, to properly do justice to this work. One thing that I would mention is I would have wished that it had been recorded in a studio, no matter how professionally the sound is recorded live, it's always lacking something in clarity, although I understand others feel the opposite, that the live nature of it enhances enjoyment in some subtle way.
Now for those who are impatient I would ask you to proceed on to the music, I want to do this work a bit of justice by discussing the story behind it and Chris Hinze's original conception which was indeed to attempt to emulate Wagner by resuscitating the old forged (it is of course not an original element of goth mythology like siegfried) story of Parcival or Persifal, however you wish to spell the name. It's a beautiful story though and it's unfortunate it was essentially co-opted by Wagner, in the same way that, in modern times, the search for the holy grail from the crusade days cannot be told without reference to Monty Python's treatment of the subject, at least for those who are older than about 35 (40?) I would think. For I experimented at work and asked all those in the sub-35 set about the holy grail and the looks of befuddled puzzlement were totally at odds with the twinkling in the eyes of all those over 40, who immediately set into talking about the knights who say ni, etc. Anyways the story is about how the hero both must prove himself to King Arthur and the other knights of the round table (oh no not them again...) and also attempt to find the holy grail and the sacred spear to be brought back 'home' again to England. He must both prove himself a valiant knight and show himself to be pure (good luck on that one).
Biographically, Chris Hinze studied first at the royal conservatory in The Hague, then moved on as so many brilliant composers did to the Berklee School in Boston. For the 1972 Holland Festival he was commissioned to compose "Live Music Now" a suite for orchestra which won him the Beethoven prize in Bonn in 1974. The present work was also a commissioned piece for the Holland Festival, of 1976. What glorious times those must have been in the musical world...
I mentioned some of the luminaries on this recording, the orchestra is conducted by Dolf v.d. Linden, the actual CH combination includes James Batton on keyboards and voices (he's phenomenal), Doug Hammond on drums, John Turner on bass, Stephan Diez on guitar (who went on to do a fantastic fusion album called Mirrors), Mariano on saxes... Others are Kenny Wheeler on trumpet, John Lee on bass, Cheryl Alexander on lead vocals-- Hey wait a minute do we need this many bassists and drummers?
As you listen bear in mind that Chris is responsible for all the composition and arrangements, from which you can see his talent is immense. This is so much more than just a straightforward jazz concept album, there is an incredible variety to the music, especially notice the Ravel-like impressionist pieces at the start of the second side, evoking mystic travels, butterflies, various animals, and the dinosaurus (?!? what the--?), my favourite part of the piece for its compositional complexity and interest.
I will do scans later (there is a booklet inside, and the record cover has a hilarious walkman ad with hinze promotion) and attach as its own package. Note that the uploads are failing again most of the time due to large file sizes, please be patient for the post, it's as slow as the snail mail these days.
Big apology for the scratchiness of side c, hopefully you can get past it to hear the theme from parcival again, by the fourth side you get pretty sick of hearing that same melody -- shades of Wagner I guess. I would love it if folks could come back and comment on their opinion of this work later after listening... good or bad, of course.
And please check Chris' website to see what he's up to today-- living in Ibiza, playing the flute, and meditating apparently-- that's the way to live your life... There he lives and works in a quiet and secluded spot up in the mountains with a beautiful view over the Mediterranean Sea.
Here is the aforementioned walkman ad with chris' blessing and two naked german girls--- oops I meant, dutch girls (I don't dare look closely enough to be able to tell)