The Death of Simone Weil

The Death of Simone Weil

Mystic visionary comes to life with a big band behind her.
Darrell Katz
Rebecca Shrimpton
Jazz Composers Alliance (JCA) Orchestra
Abby and Norm Group
Catalog Number: 
solo voice
big band

Boston, MA

Release Date: 
Feb 17, 2003
Liner Notes: 
1 CD
The Death Of Simone WeiliTunes Artist's PageiTunes Album Page
Song TitleTimePrice
1.Gone Now07:50$0.99
3.November 193812:12
4.Saint Julien13:58
5.X-Ray Dreams10:34
6.Almost Paradise07:52$0.99
7.Like A Wind06:51$0.99
One Sheet: 

Simone Weil was a Jew obsessed with Christian and Buddhist worldviews, a mystic who claimed to have visions of a realm beyond reality, and a reclusive philosopher who starved herself to death in 1941. 

With music by Darrell Katz and text by Paula Tatarunis, “The Death of Simone Weil” deals with wild imagination, German occupation, desire, fishing, and the Pope. Weil’s story unfolds like a surreal jazz improvisation that seamlessly mixes modern composition and the entire jazz legacy into a mature and personal style. 

The alto voice of Rebecca Shrimpton effortlessly captures the subtle shadings of the starkly beautiful text. Boston’s powerfully virtuosic Jazz Composers Alliance Orchestra accompanies with fistfuls of fire. 

“The Death of Simone Weil” stands out in the jazz vocal tradition in terms of both scale and ambition, and whose depth and economy of expression are worthy of the subject. All in all, it’s an exciting soirée with the far-out, the insane, and the beautifully strange. 



There’s an impressive variety of textures, colors, and rhythm in all of the JCA’s collaborations, but it’s never attempted anything like Katz’s Simone Weil. More than an hour long, with a text by Katz’s wife, the poet Paula Tatarunis, this work is eerie and moving, and even swinging. Rebecca Shrimpton sings the lucidly set text. - John Garelick


Sometimes the musicians are perfectly in synch with one another...and at other times things sound like they are quite simply falling apart into eensy teensy pieces. Some segments remind me of the saxophone stuff from early Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart recordings. This sounds good played soft or really, really loud. Some of the compositions feature vocals, but I prefer the pure instrumentals. Great stuff that doesn't neatly fit into a given category. Definitely a recommended listen...


There are moments of glorious polyphony and gorgeous floating clouds of tone and texture. Though frequently the music is idiomatically different, this project is-in terms of its passion, its realization, and its union between disparate forms of expression- worthy of standing beside the epic works of Lacy and others. Very fine music. - Jason Bivins