Monday, October 26, 2015

Revisiting a crossover classic

Forty years ago, pianist Claude Bolling shook up the jazz and classical music worlds a bit with his Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano Trio recording with flutist Jean-Pierre Rampal. It was one of the first true crossover recordings between the two musical styles. The public loved it – since it spent 530 weeks (more than 10 years) on Billboard’s classical charts after rapidly topping out at #1.

Fast forward from 1975 to 2015. With Bolling’s blessing – and an admonition not to tinker with the score, American arranger Steve Barta recast the original as a symphonic arrangement featuring the jazz quartet (flute plus rhythm section), string quartet and orchestra. This new version features pianist Jeffrey Biegel and jazz flute master Hubert Laws.

The added cushion of strings and brass wraps the project in a fine cocoon, celebrating the original melody and accentuating the dynamics of its mixed moods. Without offering a mere repertory revisit to the original, Barta, Biegel and Laws have updated Bolling’s suite beautifully. 

Huyssen's 1975 cover

For this self-produced recording, Barta also enlisted Bolling’s original artist/designer, Roger Huyssen, to update the original whimsical cover design, which featured the flute and piano sharing sleeping quarters. On the new version, the pair is still in bed, but surrounded by eight instrumental children.

Such a lavish tip of the hat by Barta & Co. was richly deserved and then some. Bolling’s 1975 piece can be credited for inspiring many fine jazz-classical crossover efforts through the years. They include pianist Donal Fox’s Scarlatti Jazz Suite Project, and the Burgstaller Martignon 4’s Mozart’s Blue Dreams and Other Crossover Fantasies and Bach’s Secret Files and More Crossover Fantasies projects.

The Symphonic Arrangement of Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano Trio will have its live performance premiere on November 20-21 at the Madison Theatre at Molloy College in Rockville Centre NY. Biegel and Laws will perform with Long Island’s South Shore Symphony at those evening concerts.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

CDs of Note - Short Takes

Taking a look at new CDs by Randy Brecker, Shai Maestro, Bob Merrrill and Dan Trudell...

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Jazz standard fare done well, twice over

The Charlotte County Jazz Society opened its 2015-16 season with a concert that celebrated the depth and breadth of the jazz canon with creative performances by two very different bands. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Exploring the Great American and Jazz Songbooks

Danny Sinoff
Singer-pianist Danny Sinoff let his piano chops carry most of the load Thursday when his trio opened the South County Jazz Club's 2015-2016 matinee season at the Venice (FL) Art Center. While he is busy with steady club gigs, principally in Fort Myers and Port Charlotte, this was Sinoff's first appearance in Venice.