Writing about music has been compared to dancing about architecture, in that it is a supposedly useless task. Writing music about architecture is a worthwhile proposition, though, as shown by this release from German pianist Florian Ross, composing music for his quartet and the Event Wind Ensemble which is inspired by famous architects and buildings he has encountered in his travels.
This music plays like an updating of the Third Stream genre, combining classical formality and jazz fluidity. That is shown on tracks such as "Maya," named for Maya Lin, designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, where the woodwinds of the wind ensemble set up a near-baroque structure for saxophonist Sebastian Gille to gently warble and improvise on. On "Antoni," for Antoni Gaudi, the reeds dance and whirl as Fabian Arends' drums keep a lively rhythm going and Gille flies on soprano sax, developing a bluesy tinge which is nudged along by Ross' piano. "Daniel," for Daniel Burnham, architect of New York's Flatiron Building, has a bustling feel with piano powering through a forest of woodwinds before Gille comes in with a shrill soprano saxophone solo over elegant piano romping. "Richard," for Richard Neutra, has a friendly but reserved melody begun by piano and tenor sax and then fleshed out by the entire ensemble. The drums give the music weight as the reeds and piano expand slowly and gracefully, and the subsequent tenor sax and piano solos bring real emotion into the piece.
Ross wrote most of these compositions but "Brinkwells Cottage" is his arrangement of the "Nimrod" section of Edward Elgar's "Enigma Variations." The woodwinds begin here, playing very solemn and stately. Then the quartet gives its own spin on the theme, playing at the same deliberate tempo but with Gille's tenor sax giving a shaped, moaning sound as the rhythm section quietly steps along. "Oscar," for Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, is the liveliest piece. The woodwinds hop to a danceable Brazilian rhythm before Gille goes wild on soprano sax, vaulting and shrieking over the entire ensemble.
Florian Ross brings the classical and jazz worlds together in interesting ways here. He has the wind ensemble erecting a formal frame for the music while the quartet injects it with mischievous life, especially Sebastian Gille on his various saxophones. This CD shows that architecture can inspire fine music.
Alvaro; Richard; Maya; Antoni; Development One; Glebe Cottage; Development Two; Development Three;
Daniel; Development Four; Brinkwells Cottage; Oscar.
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded albums and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, limited reopenings and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary step that will help musicians and venues now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the sticky footer ad). Thank you!
Get more of a good thing
Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.