Wynton Marsalis: A Fiddler's Tale / At the Octoroon Balls (2011)
The music of A Fiddlers Tale is transcendent, not so much a melting pot as a fine traditional meal prepared from an old recipe with new ingredients. Though an over simplification, this is a Klezmer ensemble strained through an amalgam of the classical and jazz traditions. Milan Turkovic's bassoon is a stand out both in performance and in the liner notes which he wrote. As for Maestro Marsalis, kudos to him. He is blazing a trial and all should be proud for him.
At The Octoroon Balls. In Creole tradition, balls were held for Creole men to choose their Octoroon (one-eight Negro) mistresses. This is a most perfect title for Marsalis' iconoclastic string quartet which encompasses all of American music in its seven movements. This is much in keeping with the tradition of Louis Moreau Gottschalk and Charles Ives, using pieces of Americana in their compositions. At The Octoroon Balls is more Ives than Louis Armstrong, but it is all there: fiddle reels, hoe downs, jug stomps, marching bands; the Deep South, New Orleans, the Piedmont East Coast, Sunday morning at church.
The piece is performed by the Orion String Quartet. Or I should say that the piece has its own momentum, performing itself: Jung's American Archetype. Marsalis' String Quartet Number 1 is coupled with a suite reduction of the above mentioned A Fiddlers Tale. Together, these compositions are important for their mostly successful crossing of style and genre lines. Should Marsalis have his way, it will all be music with no defining parameters.
Track Listing: At the Octoroon Balls (String Quartet No 1): Come Long Fiddler; Mating Calls & Delta Rhythms; Creole Contradanzas; Many Gone; Hellbound Highball; Blue Lights on the BayouRampart St. Row House Rag. Fiddler's Tale Suite: The Fiddler's March; A Fiddler's Soul; Pastorale; Happy March; Concert Piece; Tango. Waltz, Ragtime; The Devil's Dance; Big Chorale; The Blues on Top.
Personnel: The Orion String Quartet; Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.
Record Label: Columbia Records