291

Peter Beets: Chopin Meets the Blues

Greg Simmons By

Sign in to view read count
Peter Beets: Chopin Meets the Blues 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.

Track Listing: Nocturne in Eb Major, Opus 9 #2; Nocturne in F Minor, Opus 55 #1; Mazurka in A Major, Opus 17 #4; Preludes in B Minor, Opus 28 #6; Prelude in E Minor, Opus 28 #4; Nocturne in B Major opus 9 #3; Waltz in C# Minor, Opus 64 #2; Nocturne in F Minor, Opus 55 # 1.

Personnel: Peter Beets, piano; Joe Cohn, guitar; Reuben Rogers, bass; Greg Hutchinson, drums.

Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Criss Cross | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Related Video

Shop

More Articles

Read Dreamsville CD/LP/Track Review Dreamsville
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 26, 2017
Read April CD/LP/Track Review April
by Jerome Wilson
Published: April 26, 2017
Read Adam's Apple CD/LP/Track Review Adam's Apple
by Greg Simmons
Published: April 26, 2017
Read Small World CD/LP/Track Review Small World
by Edward Blanco
Published: April 26, 2017
Read High Time CD/LP/Track Review High Time
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 26, 2017
Read Rags And Roots CD/LP/Track Review Rags And Roots
by James Nadal
Published: April 25, 2017
Read "Interstellar Space" CD/LP/Track Review Interstellar Space
by Sacha O'Grady
Published: May 29, 2016
Read "Pale White Shout" CD/LP/Track Review Pale White Shout
by Glenn Astarita
Published: August 10, 2016
Read "Live In The Black Forest" CD/LP/Track Review Live In The Black Forest
by Karl Ackermann
Published: May 9, 2016
Read "Waller" CD/LP/Track Review Waller
by Roger Farbey
Published: April 14, 2017
Read "Volume 1" CD/LP/Track Review Volume 1
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: November 19, 2016
Read "The Coyote" CD/LP/Track Review The Coyote
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 5, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM RECORDS | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!