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It should come as no surprise that jazz musicians often spin some newfangled slants on compositions culled from Broadway theatrics and film. Other than renowned clarinetist David Krakauer's solo excursions for various record labels, his longtime affiliation with composer, saxophonist John Zorn
, for a host of jazz- klezmer, and outside-the-box undertakings, bring quite a bit to the proverbial table. With dashes of New York City downtown-like risk- taking episodes, Jewish folk, jazz, rock and Americana, amid Krakauer's animated, vibrato-laden notes and shuddering expressionism, this agenda intimates a nouveau flavor, when correlating the old wine in new bottles adage. The Big Picture also coincides with his month-long engagement at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in downtown Manhattan. Krakauer articulates and aligns the Jewish connection from a holistic viewpoint with these famous works via his deep-rooted sensibilities and artistic foresight.
A conspicuous stylist, Krakauer's brainchild is colorful, dense and largely festive along with his astute adherence to compositional detail. On "Willkommen" from Cabaret, violinist Jenny Scheinman
kicks matters into an oscillating pulse, countering vocalist Liza Minnelli's original jubilance with a high-impact makeover, also accentuated by the clarinetist's stinging notes. Nonetheless, the musicians' charismatic interplay often induces aural caricatures of the original performances.
With "The March (From the Love for Three Oranges)" from Woody Allen's Love and Death film score, Krakauer directs a march progression with cinematic flair and wholehearted wit, including Rob Burger
's folksy accordion lines and the band's morphing of idiosyncratic treatments with triumphant choruses. Other pieces are enamored by the leader's howling and soaring phraseology, sometimes implemented with the band's down-home, roots-oriented undertow, contrasted with melancholic passages and outlined with resonating backdrops.
"Keep It Gay" from Mel Brooks' comedy The Producers, features more of Burger's folk-driven accordion work, complemented by the musicians' oddball electronics and percussion- based background shadings that lull you into a daydream before the ensemble unleashes a rousing, celebratory gala. Yet Krakauer digs deep with his emphatic rendering of the somber ballad "People, from Funny Girl. Hence, the artist injects new and enlivening panoramas with emotive exuberance into these time-honored relics of film and stage.
Track Listing: Willkommen; La Vita E Bella; Si tu Vois Ma Mere (If You See My Mother);
Body and Soul; Moving To The Ghetto; The Family; Honeycomb; Love Theme;
Keep It Gay; People; Tradition.
Personnel: David Krakauer: clarinet and bass clarinet; Jenny Scheinman: violin;
Adam Rogers: guitars (1, 2, 4-12); Rob Burger: piano, celeste, pump
organ, Hammond organ, accordion and vibes; Greg Cohen: double bass (1,
2, 4-12); Nicki Parrott: double bass (3); Sheryl Bailey: guitar (3);
Keepalive: loops (3); Jim Black: drums and percussion.