291

Peter Beets: Chopin Meets the Blues

Greg Simmons By

Sign in to view read count
While a knowledge of romantic pianist Frederic Chopin (1810—1849) can add to the experience of listening to pianist Peter Beets' Chopin Meets the Blues , it is by no means essential to enjoying it. This is a jazz album first and foremost, and a very good one at that.

Beets uses Chopin's charts as a jumping off point, and does not constrain himself by the mood or tempo of the original music. The opener, "Nocturne in Eb Major, Opus 9 # 2," illuminates his willingness diverge from his source. Chopin's original is a down-tempo, highly expressive, if optimistic bit of music. Beets takes the tempo up to a medium pace, adds some blue progressions and returns a totally different piece of music. Bits of the original melody remain but they are now disguised, never standing out in high-relief. The track is reprised at an even faster tempo at the end of the album, with a swinging drum solo from Gregory Hutchinson that would rarely be found at Alice Tully Hall.

In the very next piece, the "Nocturne in F minor, Opus 55 #1," Beets changes gears and hews much closer to the original melody, turning the statement duties over to guitarist Joe Cohn. Again, the tempo is taken at a quick clip, and the band takes the opportunity for a good, straight-ahead workout.

In the classical world, "Prelude In E Minor, Opus 28 # 4," which is one of Chopin's most famous melodies, is treated with varying tempos from middle-slow to barely-a-pulse, depending on the pianist. What might the composer have thought to hear it opened with Reuben Rogers' fat bass vamp?

If it seems that tempo is a recurring theme here, it is. Most of the pieces inspiring this album are slow, often melancholy compositions. Beets is having none of that, consistently quickening the pace and making the tempos more noteworthy than they might be on another album.

Finally, this record compares well with other recent jazz interpretations of classical music. An album like the Classical Jazz Quartet Play Tchaikovsky (Kind of Blue, 2006) makes a point of staying close to recognizable melodies. By contrast, Beets does not shy away from using his source material only as a framework for invention, expansion and improvisation, meaning that in the end a knowledge of Chopin is not required.

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read The Better Angels of Our Nature CD/LP/Track Review The Better Angels of Our Nature
by Karl Ackermann
Published: July 20, 2017
Read What Brought You Here? CD/LP/Track Review What Brought You Here?
by Troy Dostert
Published: July 20, 2017
Read My Head Is Listening CD/LP/Track Review My Head Is Listening
by John Sharpe
Published: July 20, 2017
Read Passin' Thru CD/LP/Track Review Passin' Thru
by Ian Patterson
Published: July 20, 2017
Read Ugly Beauty CD/LP/Track Review Ugly Beauty
by Nick Davies
Published: July 20, 2017
Read Relaxin’ With the Miles Davis Quintet CD/LP/Track Review Relaxin’ With the Miles Davis Quintet
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 19, 2017
Read "Trickster" CD/LP/Track Review Trickster
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: May 11, 2017
Read "Groovin'" CD/LP/Track Review Groovin'
by Jeff Winbush
Published: November 2, 2016
Read "A Secret Sigh" CD/LP/Track Review A Secret Sigh
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 21, 2016
Read "A Little Bit Of This And A Little Bit Of That" CD/LP/Track Review A Little Bit Of This And A Little Bit Of That
by James Nadal
Published: April 15, 2017
Read "Live At Okuden" CD/LP/Track Review Live At Okuden
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: June 1, 2017
Read "avantNOIR" CD/LP/Track Review avantNOIR
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 21, 2017

Support All About Jazz: MAKE A PURCHASE  

Support our sponsor

Upgrade Today!

Musician? Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with our Premium Profile service.

Donate!