Nicholas Urie: My Garden (2011)
First thoughts of accompanying the poetry of Charles Bukowski to music are predisposed to the techniques of Tom Waits and his post-beatnik circus. Composer/arranger Nicholas Urie takes another path, instead, orchestrating his 12-piece big band towards an alternative rendition and deeper understanding.
Like his previous Excerpts From An Online Dating Service (Red Piano, 2009) ,where he put personal ads to music, Urie employs vocalist Christine Correa to sometimes sing, and sometimes speak the poet laureate of American lowlife's words. Correa's repetition of "you have my soul and I have your money" on "Round And Round" creates a redundancy of melody that is picked up by electric pianist Frank Carlberg, further swung by the dexterous big band. Urie's arrangements limit the voluminous nature of the band, dispensing the tracks with steadiness and confidence. Even when he turns the band free on the "Lioness," with Correa's shouts, the mayhem is unshakable and somehow anchored.
Urie has organized his recording to rely not only the texts but the orchestration for meaning. The soloists are given their individual moments to shine. Backed by a solid rhythm section of Carlberg, drummer Michael Sarin and bassist John Hébert, saxophonist Kenny Pexton and trumpeter John Carlson deliver soaring passages on "Finality," while Carlson's sparse, muted trumpet leads the march on "For Crying out Loud."
If Urie can dress Bukowski up in a suit and tie, then more power to him.
Track Listing: Winter: My 44th Year; Round and Round; My Garden; For Crying Out Loud; Lioness; Slaughterhouse; Lean; Finality.
Personnel: Nicholas Urie: conductor; Christine Correa: voice; Frank Carlberg: piano, Rhodes piano; John Hébert: bass; Michael Sarin: drums; Jeremy Udden: soprano saxophone; Douglas Yates: alto saxophone, clarinet; Kenny Pexton: tenor saxopghone; Brian Landrus: bass clarinet; Alan Ferber: trombone; Max Seigel: bass trombone.
Record Label: Red Piano Records