The frequent marriage of jazz music with strings has produced matches made in heaven on landmark recordings such as the Charlie Parker's classic With Strings (Verve, 1995/1949-1952) and Greg Osby's recent progressive Symbols of Light (A Solution) (Blue Note, 2002). With any union there's always the potential for things to turn sour, but in the case of Every Time I Think of You, the results are pure bliss.
Born in New Zealand and currently living Los Angeles, pianist/composer Alan Broadbent has won numerous music awards, including Grammies for arranging the pop hit "When I Fall In Love for singer Natalie Cole (1997) and "Lonely Town for the Charlie Haden's Quartet West featuring singer Shirley Horn and strings (2000). His acute understanding of both composition and improvisation are exposed on this ten-song collection of standards and originals, which conveys a sense of nuance and sophistication.
The integration of the Tokyo Strings orchestra and Broadbent's jazz trio (with bassist Brian Bromberg and drummer Kendall Kay) is seamless. The strings not only accentuate the music with lush backdrops, but provide integral texture and mood to the compositions. On "Autumn Variations Broadbent's lucid piano solo is layered first with the trio and next with rich string accompaniment, providing tension and release to the rising theme. On Gershwin's classic "Bess, Oh Where's My Bess, the strings have both a traditional and cinematic effect as the trio provides the foundation for the spacious melody.
The intimacy of the writing is both romantic and stirring on Miles Davis/Gil Evans' "Blue and Green, with powerful string arrangements and distinct bass and piano solos. "E 32nd Elegy, dedicated to pianist Leonard Tristano, features dramatic overtones, a swinging rhythm and a film-score quality. Though heartfelt and passionate, the music is never over-sentimental on the title piece, "Every Time I Think of You, or the tango-like "Nirvana Blues, where the trio and strings perform a passionate dance.
Autumn Variations; Bess, Oh Where
Alan Broadbent: piano; Brian Bromberg: bass; Kendall Kay: drums; The Tokyo Strings: string section.