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Donal Fox: The Scarlatti Jazz Suite Project (2009)

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Donal Fox: The Scarlatti Jazz Suite Project How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

The Scarlatti Jazz Suite Project commences with a short aria in G minor by Domenico Scarlatti, the famed baroque composer of over 550 sonatas for harpsichord. Pianist Donal Fox evinces an elegant pianissimo touch, setting the stage for the title composition, which refracts another Scarlatti theme into a 3/4 romp, with repeating motifs that build tension.

Drummer Terri Lyne Carrington
Terri Lyne Carrington
Terri Lyne Carrington
b.1965
drums
and bassist John Lockwood accentuate the pulse, joined by vibraphonist Warren Wolf
Warren Wolf
Warren Wolf
b.1979
vibraphone
, who lends rhythmic assent and an occasional contrapuntal response. One of the most brilliant aspects of this original Fox composition is the manner in which the bass and drums mutate rhythmic emphasis, without the usual walking/ride cymbal approach while maintaining a swing feel that takes flight into fast baroque passages played in unison by Fox and Wolf. Midway through, Fox changes the melodic theme and the rhythmic intensity approaches the feel of funk and even rock, without veering into hysteria.

Recorded live at Scullers Jazz Club in Boston, this outing is one of the most successful classical/jazz unions in recent memory. The Modern Jazz Quartet
Modern Jazz Quartet
Modern Jazz Quartet

band/orchestra
paved the way for Fox's approach, to be sure, yet his method is sui generis. On Horace Silver's classic ballad "Peace," Fox' subtle flourishes evoke the classical technique underpinning his prowess yet maintain the mood of the original. His interplay with Wolf, each echoing the swift runs of the other, morphs into a swinging section that incorporates a very brief classical theme before going back home to the melody.

"Variations On A Bach Fugue," featuring Lockwood's masterful bass, becomes a meditation on the blues replete with Don Pullen
Don Pullen
Don Pullen
1941 - 1995
piano
-esque elaborations and McCoy Tyner
McCoy Tyner
McCoy Tyner
b.1938
piano
-like percussive comping. "Libertango" and "Oblivion," by Tango innovator Astor Piazzolla
Astor Piazzolla
Astor Piazzolla
1921 - 1992
bandoneon
, are compositions perfectly suited for interpretation by Fox. Both take disparate musical forms and integrate them to create fine art.

John Coltrane
John Coltrane
John Coltrane
1926 - 1967
saxophone
's minor blues "Mr. Syms" is another highlight, as is Robert Schumann's "Davidsbundler," played with a tender, dreamy quality that leaves the audience breathless. Your breath will be taken away also, as the ingenious artistry of Donal Fox improvises on several hundred years of musical tradition with aplomb and veracity.

Track Listing: Aria; Scarlatti Jazz Suite; Peace; Variations on a Bach Fugue; Libertango; Mr. Syms; Davidsbundler; Variations on Piazzolla's Oblivion.

Personnel: Donal Fox: piano; Warren Wolf: vibraphone; John Lockwood: double-bass; Terri Lyne Carrington: drums.

Record Label: Leonellis Music

Style: Classical


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