Make a difference: Support jazz online

Support All About Jazz Your friends at All About Jazz are looking for readers to help back our website upgrade project. Of critical importance, this project will result in a vastly improved design across all devices and will make future All About Jazz projects much easier to implement. Click here to learn more about this project including donation rewards.

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 Lucas CD/LP/Track Review Lucas
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: January 22, 2018
Read In Paris: The Definitive ORTF Recording CD/LP/Track Review In Paris: The Definitive ORTF Recording
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 22, 2018
Read D'Agala CD/LP/Track Review D'Agala
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 22, 2018
Read Not Bound CD/LP/Track Review Not Bound
by Don Phipps
Published: January 22, 2018
Read Not Nearly Enough To Buy A House CD/LP/Track Review Not Nearly Enough To Buy A House
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 21, 2018
Read Journey to a New World CD/LP/Track Review Journey to a New World
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 21, 2018
Read "Soul Garden" CD/LP/Track Review Soul Garden
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 29, 2017
Read "Dedication" CD/LP/Track Review Dedication
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: July 15, 2017
Read "Instrumental" CD/LP/Track Review Instrumental
by Mark Sullivan
Published: June 10, 2017
Read "Use Your Imagination" CD/LP/Track Review Use Your Imagination
by David A. Orthmann
Published: December 21, 2017
Read "East West Time Line" CD/LP/Track Review East West Time Line
by Geannine Reid
Published: April 10, 2017
Read "Nocturno" CD/LP/Track Review Nocturno
by Tyran Grillo
Published: March 9, 2017