Composer and guitarist Benji Kaplan is an artist that brings vivid colors to his music, both in sound and imagery. Kaplan has three albums already in his growing discography: Meditações no violão, a solo guitar album, Reveries em Som, an album of duets with flautist Anne Drummond; and Uai Sô, a project that features various ensembles that explore his composition and arranging styles. For Kaplan's fourth release, he is combining a wind quintet with his acoustic nylon-stringed guitar, entitled Chorando Sete Cores. The quintet features: Anne Drummond on C and alto flutes, Remy LeBeouf on clarinet and bass clarinet, and David Byrd-Marrow on French horn. The album has thirteen Kaplan originals that are a display of Kaplan's compositional virtuosity as well as the mastery of the five players performing them. Chorando Sete Cores translated is cries of the seven-colored tanager. The seven-colored tanager is a vulnerable species of bird in the family Thraupidae that lives in the forests of north-eastern Brazil.
Kaplan explains his inspiration behind the title: "Chorando, being the action word for "Choro" representing the Brazilian style of music and culture (also means "cry"); and Sete-cores, the seven-colored tanagerhere the six instruments, combined with the compositions are "crying" seven colors. I additionally feel, that the music has 7 elements: the 6 instruments plus the compositions themselves. So, in essence, the listener has much room for interpretation of symbolic meaning."
Opening with "Bryant Park," the classical overtone to the project is instantly recognizable, a Brazilian chamber ensemble that has the rhythmic articulation and motion of Brazil. The composition is thematic in character and development. It is easy to hear the Brazilian music traditions in Kaplan's composition style. The musical figures are syncopated, and the through-composed composition is a musical celebration of Brazil's heritage as seen through the creative ear of Kaplan's vivid musical imagination. Also of note is Kaplan's mastery of orchestration, the colors and texture this quintet achieves in a three minute piece is impressive.
Kaplan's compositions are rich in atmosphere and imagery. "A Joyful Stroll" easily brings forth a briskly paced walk that is full of joy and optimism. With rapid-fire lines and patterns spinning around the guitar, this piece is a brilliant example of Kaplan's contrapuntal writing. The various lines flow in and out of each other to form a texture that is lyrical, but rich in depth and motion. Kaplan takes us on a journey through varying patterns that are carried throughout the five instruments. Some patterns keep time, others swirl playfully around the guitar and then come together for flowing tutti sections. The result is a poignantly delicate counterpoint that is interwoven with shimmering joyous playing and energy.
Chorando Sete Cores is a stunning collection of compositions that can be enjoyed individually or as a suite, the music is beautifully colorful and a testament to Kaplan's skills as a composer, orchestrator, and musical visionary of exquisite taste, all wrapped up in the passion and style of Brazil.
Bryant Park; At the Vanguard; Canção de Ninar (Berceuse); Trenzinho para Lapa ( Little Train to Lapa); Familiar Strangers; The Wind; A Joyful Stroll; Chorando Sete Cores (Cries of The Seven colored Tanager); Happy Sadness; A Tricksters Bolero; Coisa Carioca (A Carioca Thing); Samba for Django; Leaves in the Wind.
Anne Drummond: alto flute, C Flute; Remy Leboeuf: clarinet, bass clarinet; David Byrd-Marrow: French horn; Benji Kaplan: nylon string acoustic guitar.