313

Boston Modern Orchestra Project: Gunther Schuller: Journey Into Jazz

By

Sign in to view read count
Boston Modern Orchestra Project: Gunther Schuller: Journey Into Jazz What might seem the most innocuous music is often the most avant-garde, the most challenging; the spark that forces the question of what defines the boundaries of jazz. Gunther Schuller's "Journey Into Jazz," composed in 1962, is just that: a children's narrative, telling the story of one Eddie Jackson, "a boy who learned about jazz," a communal mode of music-making that is free, ostensibly, of all the restraints that come with genre labels. Though the piece is over 40 years old, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project's recording captures Schuller's strong aesthetic statement about the "third stream" of jazz and its staying power throughout history—with its composer narrating.

"Journey Into Jazz" walks a fine line between simplicity and didacticism. Described by Leonard Bernstein (among others) as "a sort of 'Peter and the Wolf' of Jazz," it seems simple: a young boy has a hunger for music, picks up the trumpet and eventually discovers that music need not be notated, that it can be free-flowing, stemming from raw emotion. Yet the music that accompanies the narration, written by Nat Hentoff, seems slightly static: made legible for even the youngest ears, classical and jazz are rendered into crystallizations of their mass-market definitions. Though the playing and recording quality of this album are undoubtedly high, they cannot escape the constraints of the self-ascribed "third stream" genre, stuck literally between European and African musical traditions. Reduced to its most basic argument, Schuller's children's narrative also brings the music down to its essentials, reducing both other streams to overly simplistic, often bland passages.

The other two pieces on this album, "Variats" and "Concertino," both scored for Jazz Quartet and Orchestra, come closer to Amiri Baraka's (then LeRoi Jones') demand of third stream music, that the "techniques [of jazz and classical music] be used and not canonized." All three are pieces full of contradictions, which make them some of the most interesting compositions of the '50s and late '60s: they struggle to reconcile composition and improvisation, not perfectly, but resoundingly musically.

Track Listing: Variants for Jazz Quartet and Orchestra; Journey into Jazz; Concertino for Jazz Quartet and Orchestra.

Personnel: Edwin Schuller: bass; George Schuller: drums; Tom Beckham: vibes; Tim Ray: piano; Gunther Schuller: narrator; David Ballou: trumpet; Jason Hunter: tenor saxophone; Matt Dariau: alto saxophone; Bruce Barth: piano.

Title: Gunther Schuller: Journey Into Jazz | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: BMOP/sound


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Birdhoused CD/LP/Track Review Birdhoused
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: July 22, 2017
Read Vol. 1 CD/LP/Track Review Vol. 1
by Troy Dostert
Published: July 22, 2017
Read Meeting My Shadow CD/LP/Track Review Meeting My Shadow
by James Nadal
Published: July 22, 2017
Read No Secrets No Lies CD/LP/Track Review No Secrets No Lies
by Geannine Reid
Published: July 22, 2017
Read 50 CD/LP/Track Review 50
by Doug Collette
Published: July 22, 2017
Read Day After Day CD/LP/Track Review Day After Day
by John Eyles
Published: July 21, 2017
Read "Cave Art" CD/LP/Track Review Cave Art
by Rokas Kucinskas
Published: August 20, 2016
Read "And to the Republic" CD/LP/Track Review And to the Republic
by Mark F. Turner
Published: October 12, 2016
Read "Cinema Spiral" CD/LP/Track Review Cinema Spiral
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 31, 2016
Read "This Is Nate Najar" CD/LP/Track Review This Is Nate Najar
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 26, 2017
Read "Strunkin'" CD/LP/Track Review Strunkin'
by Jerome Wilson
Published: November 18, 2016
Read "Aram Bajakian's Dolphy Formations" CD/LP/Track Review Aram Bajakian's Dolphy Formations
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: December 28, 2016

Support All About Jazz: MAKE A PURCHASE  

Support our sponsor

Upgrade Today!

Musician? Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with our Premium Profile service.

Donate!