High On Classical Gas: Jacques Loussier, Tiempo Libre and James Galway, Burgstaller Martignon
The band is joined by some notable guests including Paquito D'Rivera who plays alto saxophone on "Air On A G String" (performed as a Bolero) and "Gavotte (Son)" from French Suite No. 2 in C minor, and clarinet on "Ganqueteo Con Bajo (Danzon)" based on the Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major, BWV 1007. The latter piece is elevated by the expert bass playing of Tebelio Fonte, who introduces the piece. Rhythmic mastery characterizes all of the pieces in this recital. These interpretations brim with that positive Hispanic heart, full of joy and fun. How fortunate that all music could be like this.
James Galway and Tiempo Libre
Tiempo Libre scales down from the septet on Bach in Havana to a quartet supporting flautist James Galway on O'Reilly Street. Joining pianist/arranger Jorge Gomez is joined by percussionist Leanadro Gonzalez, bassist Tebelio Fonte, and drummer Hilario Bell from his larger group. The main subject of O'Reilly Street is Claude Bolling's "Suite of Flute and Jazz Piano" (1975) originally composed for Jean-Pierre Rampal. Galway brings his Irish soul to the six-movements performed, one that is both sprite and piquant. Galway, whose cross-over bona fides are well established, surpasses all possible expectations in his precise and passionate performance.
This performance of Bolling's suite is very much a collaborative effort yielding equally collaborative results. Galway brings the poetry, pianist Gomez the Bachian counterpoint, and Fonte, Gonzalez and Bell, the rhythmic heat. Thus Bolling's palette is distinctly European. Bolling employed many baroque and classical techniques in his compositions. Galway and Gomez brush this French canvas with broad cultural strokes leaving a brilliant multicultural evidence over the entire piece. This is not simply great jazz, it is great music.
The quintet also performs Bolling's "Espiegle/General O'Reilly," a more progressive series musically, more modern. These compositions have more of the Latin influence sticking to them. Gomez provides the band three compositions ("Tica-Tica," Soncito" and "Contradanza") that embrace the Latin fully. The melodies are bright, possessing a powerful momentum that is immediately musically satisfying. Gomez's pianism is broad and dense, his talent is palpable. His arranging ability is equally impressive as evidenced in his treatment of Bach's B minor Orchestral Suite (BWV 1067). Here, Galway shines as he duels with Fonte's electric bass. The Bach suite is beautifully scripted and improvised. This is a disc for end-of-the-year consideration.
Burgstaller Martignon 4
Mozart's Blue Dreams and Other Crossover Fantasies
These jazz/classical offerings crescendo with the Burgstaller Martignon 4's Mozart's Blue Dreams and Other Crossover Fantasies. This is music of phantasm, pretty much beyond description. The Brugstaller Martignon 4 is made up of pianist Hector Martignon, brass player Joe Burgstaller, uber-bassist Hans Glawischnig and percussionist John Ferrari. Together, this merry band performs the arrangements of Burgstaller and Martignon of three-hundred years of music from Mozart to Piazzolla (with detours through Chopin/Jobim, Duke Ellington, Chick Corea and, yes, again, Claude Bolling).
"Mozart's Blue Dream" is a five-part suite based on the composer's Piano Sonata No. 11 in A Major. The band's interpretation is both horizontal and vertical. Vertically, Burgstaller and Martignon use fairly well-known classical pieces as their spring board and then render them in a variety of jazz genera ways. "Blue Dream" contains Dixieland, Chicago and hard bop centered movements. "Chopin Meets Jobim" combines Chopin's Prelude No. 4 in E minor with Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Insensatez" in an ingenious interveaving of the two pieces in a breezy bossa nova style. Corea's "Children's Songs" are basically duets between Burgstaller and vibraphonist Ferrari in what may be the most realized pieces on the disc, in their simplicity.
It's hard to top James Galway and Tiempo Libre's Bolling offering above, but Burgstaller and Martigno give it a run for its money with Bolling's Toot Suite. Bolling's music is often termed "light classical" but it may very well be the elusive third stream Schuller was always taking about. The group's "Ave Maria" and " Oblivion" are ethereal moments of true beauty and geniuslike the rest of this recording.
Tracks and Personnel
Jacques Loussier Plays Bach
Tracks: Bach: Partita in E Major; Bach: Invention for Two Voices No. 8; Bach: Siciliana in G Minor; Bach: Vivace from Concerto in C Minor; Bach: Toccata and Fugue in C Major: Overture ; Bach: Toccata and Fugue in C Major: Adagio; Bach: Toccata and Fugue in C Major: Fugue; Bach: Minuet in G Major; Bach: Prelude No. 2 in C Minor; Bach: Chromatic Fantasy; Bach: Chorale No. 1 "Sleepers Awake" (Live).
Personnel: Jacques Loussier: piano; Vincent Charbonnier: bass; Andre Arpino: drums.