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The long awaited debut by the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, Collective Creativityhas been described as a "genre-blending" piece of work, combining the percussive elements of jazz with the graceful sophistication of classical music, fused in one big band/symphonic project. Under the direction of conductor and producer Orbert Davis, the CJP is a 55-plus piece symphonic jazz orchestra established as a "501 ( c ) 3" not-for-profit organization, from an invitation by The Chicago Jazz Institute to Artistic Director Davis, providing world-class performances and sponsoring music education programs for the community.
The album features flautist Nicole Mitchell and tenor saxophonists Ari Brown and Ed Wilkerson, as well as baritonist Mwata Bowdenall members of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), which is dedicated to expressing the diverse styles of Afro-American music and serves as a vehicle for free music education to the inner-city youth of Chicago. Against this backdrop, Davis crafts a suite and movement which, as the one sheet states "recall(s) the tragedy of human bondage; reflect(s) the significance of community and collaboration...and emphasizes legacy and bondage."
Beginning with his opening salvo "Fanfare for Cloud Gate," Davis uses the might of his horn section to make a loud and boisterous statement, exclaiming that the experience to come will be unusual and unforgettable. The brief, three-minute opener seems to blend right into the second piece of the suite, "West End Blues/ Weatherbird," both featuring trumpeter Davis. "Diaspora" is the first piece to truly blend strong elements of jazz with overtones of classical, employing the finessed texture of a twenty-five piece string section and resulting in one dynamite sound, where both Wilkerson and Brown are featured.
On "One Thousand Questions, One Answer" the sounds shift sharply from a classical motif to jazzy free-style rhythms flowing from Brown's sax, Mitchell's piccolo and Davis' piccolo trumpet. One of the finest tunes performed here is the sprawling "Seraphim," with pianist Ryan Cohan providing elegant play, supported once again by the entire orchestra including the stringsa beautiful piece of music.
The African roots and rhythms comes shining through on the percussive-filled extended "Vice Versa," adding strong melodic expression and aggressive musical energy to a lively musical arrangement. With the only vocal piece on the album, singer Terisa Griffin appears as special guest on the final bonus track, Count Basie and James Rushing's "Goin' to Chicago." With, perhaps, the only pure jazz number in the repertoire, Griffin provides a splashy finish, belting out the lyrics with her Aretha Franklin-like vocals, to close the session in a departure from the main theme of the music.
This music begs the question: "Is it classical or is it jazz?" Whatever the decision, one thing is clear: Collective Creativity is a tastefully crafted blend of serious sounds served in an orchestral setting of energetic, innovative and sophisticated music, steeped in a foundation of jazz rhythms and classical colors.
Track Listing: Fanfare for Cloud Gate; West End Blues/Weatherbird; Diaspora; The Creation of Evolution (part 1); One Thousand Questions, One Answer; The Creation of Evolution (part 2); Seraphim; An Afternoon With Mr. Bowie (part 1); An Afternoon With Mr. Bowie (part 2); The Creation of Evolution (part 3); Vice Versa; Goin' To Chicago.
Personnel: Orbert Davis: conductor, trumpet, piccolo trumpet; Ari Brown: tenor
saxophone; Ed Wilkerson: tenor saxophone, clarinet, didgeridoo; Mwata
Bowden: baritone saxophone, baritone clarinet, didgeridoo; Ryan Cohan:
piano; Stewart Miller: bass; Ernie Adams: drums; Nicole Mitchell:
flute, alto flute, bass flute, piccolo; Stephen Eisen: flute, alto
flute; Amy Barwan: oboe; Erin Horan: oboe; Peter Brusen: bassoon,
contra bassoon; Dileep Gangolli: clarinet; Jerry Dimuzio: clarinet;
Richard Hogarth: bass clarinet; Beth Mazur-Johnson: french horn; Alice
Render: french horn; Michael Buckwalter: french horn; Mark Olen:
trumpet, flugelhorn; David Spencer: trumpet, flugelhorn; David Young:
trumpet, flugelhorn; Tracy Kirk: trombone; Henry Salgado: trombone;
Arthur Linsner: bass trombone; Robert Lustrea: bass trombone (11); Charlie Schuchat: tuba; Dan Anderson: tuba (11); Sarah
Allen: tympani; Ruben Alvarez: congas; Mike Avery: percussion; Alejo
Poveda: percussion; Ernie Adams: percussion (11); Suzanne Osman:
percussion (11); Sylvia de la Cerna: violin 1; Bernardo Arias:
violin 1; Elizabeth Brathwaite: violin 1; Talia Pavia: violin 1; Carl
Johnston: violin 1; Karen Nelson: violin 1; Debora Ponko: violin 1;
Phyllis Sanders: violin 2; Carol Kalvonjian: violin 2; Barbara Farley:
violin 2; Kristine Semanic: violin 2; Irene Quirmbach: violin 2;
Jennifer Dunn: violin 2; Scott Dowd: viola; Loretta Gillespie: viola;
Lynn LaPlante: viola; Karen Dickleman: viola; Ann Hendrickson-Griffin:
cello; Ellen Frolichstein: cello; Andrew Snow: cello; Richard Yao:
cello; John Floeter: string bass; Kathryn Nettleman: string bass;
Jacque Harper: string bass; Kara Bershad: harp; Terisa Griffin: vocal (11).
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.