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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
, 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, fluid technique. Veteran pianist Kenny Barron
. Coming together for this interpretation, the quartet conjures up marching soldiers, relaxed dancers, a gentle waltz, and folk idioms from around the world. With each of the four participating equally, the quartet gets its unique character from all directions. Highly recommended, this one comes just in time for the holidays.
Track Listing: The Swingin' Nut (Overture Miniature); Marche Touche (March); Groove of the Sugar Plum Fairy (Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy); Blues a la Russe (Russian Dance Trepack); Bedouin Dreams (Arabian Dance); Oriental Rhythm (Chinese Dance); Mirlitonova (Dance of the Reeds); Vaunce of the Flowers (Waltz of the Flowers).
Personnel: Stefon Harris: vibraphone, marimba; Kenny Barron: piano; Ron Carter: bass; Lewis Nash: drums.