In 1971 pianist Frankie Reneau wrote, composed and arranged a heartfelt elegy to his piano instructor Laura Staine who had died in a tragic accident. Reneau was only 16 at the time, and the highly precocious, complex and vivid reflection on life and death was very well received. Reneau was rightly hailed as a prodigy – and he along with band and choir performed to eager audiences in Belize city and the Districts.
That was 1971, and since then, Reneau has migrated to the UK, where he trained extensively as a concert pianist in Moscow, and London. And now, 42 years after Mass in Blues, he is returning to his boyhood masterpiece. Reneau is performing Mass In Blues for two nights on September 6th and 8th at the Bliss Center. The event is seen as one of the highlights of the September Celebrations for music lovers, especially those who fell in love with Mass in Blues. The good news for them is that Mass In Blues has been digitally re-mastered by Ludwig Studios and is being re-launched on Compact Disc with new packaging and liner notes.
And the good news for Reneau is that he has re-visited his work and found it fit for a modest re=working:….
"Mass in Blues 2013 - why?"
Francis Renaeu - "Mass in Blues" Composer
"Because after many years people's recordings are non existent anymore and I have had repeated requests for Mass in Blues and people want to know where they can get it. I thought the best thing to do is to have a CD and I was in communication with Lynn Young and w decided this is how we would it."
"What's it like visiting 41 years later.?"
"Most composers would like to make forward into something different. However, I went back to look at Mass in Blues in light of this project now. There was another in my midst but I know whats going on but on reflection and having visited the world - I realized that it was something inspiring about that work. Once I revisited I saw so much cope for things that I as a young guy would not have thought about musically but it's not around - even the computerized things that they had even sounds you can make. Having saxophones and things like at that time in Belize was not something I could have gone against. So I said, right I have to change some of the melodies here and there, I didn't tamper with it too much. I changed the setting from a choir to a gospel choir which I thought I could do a lot with and also have backing vocals as well. I think in general what I ended up with was something more exciting, overall. The voices I have are quite amazing. I think when you hear it, you'll know that it will have a completely different ring to it."
"When you do that - you confronting the possibility that those who have cherished this recording for so many year and those who have longed to hear it again perform will say it's a sacrilege - how could you do that to Mass in Blues because they own it as well."
"They will still own it because it's the original that we are launching - it's not the actual even on the night. You will find that for me - this particular work now, is a bit more joyous and I think that it particularly exposes in a nice that the talent here and the very brilliant voices and some of the instrumentalists as well that will be performing. The whole work has been revitalized as a result."
The concert takes place on the sixth and eighth September at the Bliss which is when the re-mastered version of the original 1971 recording will also be launched.