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REGINALD MOBLEY, “BECAUSE” MOBLEY MUST BE KNOWN

Written By Sebastián Spreng
July 14, 2023 at 1:12 PM

New album for Reginald Mobley, “Because”.

Forgive the pun, but his latest album, “Because”, marks a significant milestone in the career of Reginald “Reggie” Mobley.  “Because” serves as a testament to the recognition this tireless Floridian countertenor has earned after years of dedicated work. “Reggie” has captivated audiences with his exceptional performances in multiple seasons of the choral group Seraphic Fire and his talent and passion have allowed him to garner well-deserved recognition on the European stage, following American cities like Boston, Seattle, Washington, and Atlanta.

Whether performing in London with the esteemed John Eliot Gardiner, or in Paris recording this highly anticipated recital alongside composer Baptiste Trotignon, Mobley showcases his artistry as a pianist. Trotignon’s mesmerizing jazz solos serve as both an oasis and respite, captivating listeners while Mobley ponders the enigmatic question: “Why?” In the text of Paul Laurence Dunbar, set to music by Florence Price (1887-1953), the singer responds with the eloquence of a “Because” that is a simple, powerful testimony of centuries of struggle and pain sublimated with elegance and exemplary dignity.

“Because” is an album that reflects Reggie; it is his mirror where he contemplates his concerns, explorations, rebellions, causes, struggles, and panaceas – hence its importance. It is a musical compendium made with the delicacy of a goldsmith, capturing a repertoire that combines several facets and edges to trace a journey that redeems music. From the spiritual to the gospel, from the chamber song to the popular, Mobley invests each one with the purity and tenderness of his trademark: a unique, sweet, crystalline voice. If the pianist’s interventions transform the recital into a musical tournament between both protagonists, it is Mobley’s a Cappella solos that leave an indelible mark on the memory. “Were You There” and “Steal Away” are both presented in a hypnotic arrangement by Patrick Quigley, with the piano as barely subtle support.

VIDEO: “Were You There?” by Reginald Mobley and Baptiste Trotignon

Two additional compositions from Florence Price, “Resignation” and “Sunset”, stand out for their impeccable execution and heartfelt emotions. Additionally, the album offers a collection of spirituals, masterfully compiled by the Johnson brothers, John Rosamond Johnson (1873-1954) and James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938) (the latter Johnson was the author of “Lift Every Voice and Sing”). The efforts of Quigley and Mobely are instrumental in preserving and recording this unique genre from the Harlem Renaissance, which otherwise might have been lost to time. Also on the album is a delicious faded waltz by Jean de Harry Thacker Burleigh (1866-1949), which combines the European influence of the salon with vernacular roots and, looking forward, seems the perfect encore to include in recitals.

Thus the boy from Gainesville, in the deep American South, has gained well-deserved fame through Bach, Handel, and other Baroque composers. Mobley makes his indelible mark with music born of slavery, music that speaks as a force of unstoppable change, as he sings and lifts the listener to liberation.

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