St. Cecilia’s Asylum Chorus, Recordings Vol. 1 (Independent)

St. Cecilia’s Asylum Chorus, Recordings Vol. 1, album cover, OffBeat Magazine, November 2014

St. Cecilia is the patron saint of musicians, so it makes sense that choral director Lucas Davenport, late of the New Orleans Bingo! Show, would craft this shifting a capella sextet as a refuge for those who want to interact with musical performance on a personal, street level—it’s no coincidence that the chorus was out on the front lines protesting the recent sound-restriction ordinance.

But their larger imperative is about blurring the lines between sacred and secular, another fine old New Orleans tradition, and this three-song debut EP does that well, sandwiching Nina Simone’s “Be My Husband,” a staple of their live sets, between the ancient spirituals “Travelin’ Shoes” and “Jacob’s Ladder.”

Subjects aside, you’d be hard-pressed to notice any change in mood, especially given the very jazzy arrangement of the latter.

In just under 10 minutes, the SCAC manages to draw a fascinating parallel between the commitment one makes to God and the kind one merely makes in front of him, but if you’ve seen them on stage, Volume 2 seems bound to expand their mission even further.