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Glenn Zottola: Charlie Parker with Strings Revisited

Edward Blanco By

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Saxophonist and trumpeter Glenn Zottola came out of retirement from a long distinguished career, for the specific purpose of paying tribute to jazz artists who influenced his life and his music. The tribute series of albums which, include homages to Miles Davis, Clifford Brown and Stan Getz among them, concludes with a tip of the hat to the legendary Charlie Parker with a reprise of his classic Charlie Parker with Strings sessions of 1949 and 1950 capturing the romantic and melodic side of this giant. Zottola's Charlie Parker with Strings Revisited employs new transcriptions of the original arrangements from both Mercury recordings covering nine pieces (five from the first album and four from the second), in re-visiting and re-imagining Parker's swinging rhythms section with the help of lush string arrangements that made these recordings a personal favorite of the jazz icon.

One major difference of note here is, that Zottola chose not to simply duplicate Parker's original solos but rather, to infuse the music with his own solo statements with, as he states, "Charlie Parker's "spirit" in mind..." the result of course, is another captivating documentation of the "Yardbird's" music with a decidedly Zottolian twist. Opening up with the 1931 John Klenner favorite and all-time standard "Just Friends," introduced by the sounds of the harp and strings, provides the saxophonist his first alto solo setting the stage for what is in store. Recording the standards for Parker was a bid for greater exposure and adding the strings just made it a first among jazz artists and as such, Vernon Duke's "April In Paris" was forever changed and here, Zottola's treatment of the classic brings the music to life.

The Gershwin's defining "Summertime" is recalled here quite well, though brief but beautiful, Zottola's magical solos make it memorable. Two oft-recorded standards, "East of the Sun," and "I Don't Know What Time It Was," are remembered here with much of the saxophonist's personal style imprinted on the arrangement clearly wielding a lyrical alto. The somber and humble David Raskin/Johnny Mercer classic "Laura," still conveys the emotional message the authors intended and this version does not change that but rather enhances the high-pitched alto in a delicate way.

The standard "I'm In the Mood for love" features Zottola in a more pronounced manner while the familiar "Everything Happens to Me," takes on a unique charm complimented well by the strings. The saxophonist does some off his best soloing on the Schwartz/Dietz finale tune "Dancing in the Dark" leaving little doubt that this Parker tribute has an unquestioned Zottola imprint. Traditional jazz at its best, Charlie Parker with Strings Revisited takes one on a musical journey of past glory remembering one of the legends of the genre fulfilling his long-held desire to record with a string section. Alto saxophonist Glenn Zottola pays homage to a legend and one of his most memorable works with a striking musical message that may be just as memorable.

Track Listing: Just Friends; April In Paris; Summertime; East of the Sun; I Didn't Know What Time It Was; Laura; I'm In The Mood For Love; Everything Happens to Me; Dancing In The Dark.

Personnel: Glenn Zottola: alto saxophone; Mark Stalling: piano, arranger; String Section and other band members not listed.

Title: Charlie Parker with Strings Revisited | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Classic Jazz Records

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