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Big Band: Live in Molde, Rhapsody in Blue, Pola

Judith Insell By

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Chick Corea and Trondheim Jazz Orchestra
Live in Molde

Michel Camilo
Rhapsody in Blue

Now Orchestra with Marilyn Crispell

When three established jazz pianists pair up with three large ensembles, how could you go wrong? In these three cases everything goes just right!

Anyone at this year's IAJE performance by Chick Corea and the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra of Norway left with a sense of exhilaration. Live in Molde continues in the same vein, presenting some of the most creative and challenging big band arrangements in recent memory. For some composers and arrangers, big band is the ultimate in instrumental expression, its form being the most closely related to the symphony orchestra. Live in Molde is a must-have, a big band "Treatise on Instrumentation . Erlend Skomsvoll, commissioned to arrange a set of pieces for the 2000 edition of Moldejazz, took the suggestion to re-work Chick Corea's original material, masterworks in their own right, and proved himself to be an accomplished arranger. Skomsvoll approaches "Crystal Silence with an interesting minimalist concept; using only the saxophone section as accompaniment for piano and rhythm. "Matrix is brilliantly re-cast, featuring Corea's original piano solo transcribed and masterfully played on the tuba by Oystein Baadsvik. "Duende features the beautiful, fluid trumpet playing of Mathias Eick; "Return to Forever has a haunting quality; Skomsvoll's re-harmonization of "Spain-Intro puts a completely new face on the well-known jazz standard's introduction; and the concluding "Armando's Rhumba is a wonderful, big dance party.

Michel Camilo takes one of Gershwin's most popular piano features, "Rhapsody in Blue , and makes it sparkle with the freshness of his aesthetic - jaunty rhythms and an approach closer to the jazz style intended by the composer. "Concert in F is also improved by Camilo's jazz spin and his interpretation of "Prelude in No. 2 (for solo piano) has an open solo section which doesn't appear in the original version. The Barcelona Symphony, lead by Ernest Martinez, is outstanding, easily and energetically adhering to Camilo's more jazz-oriented interpretations.

Marilyn Crispell and the Now Orchestra offer up wonderful avant-garde interactions on Pola. Crispell's piano becomes a thread in a musical tapestry of colors and Kate Hammett-Vaughan's voice appears throughout, adding rich and vibrant texture. Much of the CD features soloists freely improvising over densely composed background structures. Each instrumentalist in the Now Orchestra is a top-notch musician, improvising solos that stretch the limits of their instruments. Pola represents free jazz in the most positive light.

Corea, Camilo and Crispell are bravely pursuing the exploration of new jazz territories. Check out these CDs, they challenge and excite the ears.

Tracks and Personnel

Live in Molde

Tracks: Crystal Silence; Windows; Matrix; Duende; Bud Powell; Return to Forever; Spain Intro; Armando's Rhumba.

Personnel: Chick Corea: piano; Trondheim Jazz Orchestra

Rhapsody in Blue

Tracks: Rhapsody In Blue; Concerto in F: Allegro; Adagio—Andante con moto, Allegro agitato; Prelude No. 2.

Personnel: Michel Camilo: piano; Barcelona Symphony Orchestra.


Tracks: Pola; Yin Yang; March; M.C.; Broken Dreams; Suffused with Blue Light.

Personnel: Marilyn Crispell: piano; Now Orchestra.


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