The names of Johann Sebastian Bach, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and Sergei Rachmaninoff do not necessarily conjure images and sounds of jazz in one's mind, that is until one has listened to recordings by the Classical Jazz Quartet. Although these musicians utilize the same instruments as the Modern Jazz Quartet, they are in no way clones or copycats of that groundbreaking group. They have very much their own sound and style.
This is not surprising given the huge talent of the musicians involved; all four are virtuosos on their respective instruments. The themes, although composed in a different time and place, ...read more
The Modern Jazz Quartet epitomized what some observers labeled, perhaps derisively, chamber jazz." The recently formed Classical Jazz Quartet (CJQ), featuring bassist Ron Carter, pianist Kenny Barron, drummer Lewis Nash, and vibraphonist Stefon Harris have revived that elegant tradition. The group has followed up last year's The Nutcracker with Plays Bach.
As I listened to the opening theme of "Jesu, Joy Of Man's Desiring", and its all too faithful replication of the original opus, I dreaded the worst. Fortunately, though, that opening leads to what Dexter Gordon might've called a swingin' affair. The CJQ shifts from reverent to up-tempo in ...read more
The New Modern Jazz Quartet...
It is hard to not compare this Classical Jazz Quartet to the Modern Jazz Quartet. They both have the same format of outstanding individual superstars, they both have a major leaning toward classical music. Most listeners might not even be surprised or offended if the CJQ popped out The Cylinder" or Django." But, alas, while comparable, they are not cut from the same cloth. And, this is good for the listener, for we now have a second great piano-vibes-bass-drums lineup to listen to.
To date, the Classical Jazz Quartet, a band comprised of Kenny Barron, ...read more
Like the Modern Jazz Quartet, the foursome on this new release folds visions of great classical music into a mainstream jazz setting. Tchaikovsky's 1892 ballet has always provided special holiday vibes for the holidays. This year, Bob Belden's musical arrangements have put a new spin on it; still leaving a lot of space for veteran improvisation. The quartet swings. Stefon Harris, 28, received his master's degree in jazz performance from the Manhattan School of Music in 1997. Strongly influenced by the music of Igor Stravinsky, the vibraphonist balances melody, harmony and rhythm on his instrument with an easy-going, ...read more