Vicious World: Vicious World Plays The Music of Rufus Wainwright (2011)
The most arresting thing about Vicious World Plays The Music of Rufus Wainwright are Irwin's and McDonald's arrangements. The band consists of the two horns, plus guitar, bass, drums, violin and cello, but sounds so much bigger. The stringsviolinist Eliza Cho and cellist Maria Jeffersimpart both delicacy and spaciousness to the music, and help convey the sort of intimacy that Wainwright's songs demand. Reminiscent of use of strings on Arthur Blythe's Basic Blythe (Columbia, 1988), McDonald and Irwin completely integrate the cello and violin into the band sound.
The arrangements also allow for considerable musical variety, from the understated pastoral balladry of "Memphis Skyline," to the darkly humorous tango pastiche of "Matinee Idol," to the hard-edged, jagged rock of "This Love Affair." McDonald and Irwin trade leads, harmonize, play counter melodies, and continually dance around each other. As improvisers, they tend to favor intricate, flowing lines and a lyrical approach.
Drummer Danny Fischer, guitarist Sebastian Noelle, and bassist Thomas Kneeland are adaptable, big-eared sidemen who exhibit uncommon depth and taste throughout the recording. Noelle shines particularly brightly on "Memphis Skyline," and "The Art Teacher," the latter benefiting greatly from his snarling opening salvo and expressive soloing.
Finally, where Vicious World Plays The Music of Rufus Wainwright really succeeds is how well it puts across Wainwright's elegant music to a listening audience that may well know little or nothing about the singer/songwriter. It's almost certain, however, that many will want to check out Wainwright's music after hearing this CD.
Track Listing: Going to Town; Natasha; This Love Affair; Memphis Skyline; Leaving For Paris; Matinee Idol; Peach Trees; Millbrook; The Art Teacher; In a Graveyard; Dinner at Eight.
Personnel: Aaron Irwin: saxophones, clarinet, flute; Matthew McDonald: trombone; Sebastian Noelle: guitars; Thomson Kneeland: bass; Danny Fischer: drums; Eliza Cho: violin; Maria Jeffers: cello.
Record Label: Spinaround Records