Dwelling on previous influences and past concepts to construct a fresh approach to an idea is a common approach in jazz. The title of this album indicates a pathway into the art of giving classical repertoire some jazz characteristics.
Introduced to Prokofiev around 2005 by a Turkish jazz presenter and radio host, Stephane Spira was fascinated by the Russian composer's dense and rich harmonies. "As soon as I heard the Violin Concerto," says Spira, "I was struck by the melody, the lyricism and the complex harmonies, which is a combination that I'm particularly drawn to. I love a melody that you can sing but that's supported by harmony that isn't obvious but sounds totally natural. I immediately heard it as a vehicle for a jazz band."
Since first recording with him in 2009, Spira has reunited with Italian-born, Paris-based pianist Giovanni Mirabassi, with whom he made an earlier album. Mirabassi's style is known for resembling players such as Bill Evans and Enrico Pieranunzi and incorporating essences of European classical music into his jazz performance. Of the other musicians who form the quartet, Steve Wood is a longstanding friend of Spira, who first played with him in New York City. Drummer Donald Kontomanou is a younger addition to the group, whose mother is the French jazz singer, Elisabeth Kontomanou.
Improkofiev features two original compositions by Spira one of which opens the album. Carla Bley's "Lawns" is also a worthy addition, her sweeping chordal style dominates the structure of the track contributing to the excitement that this album offers. "Gymnopedie No. 1," composed by Erik Satie, shows again the neat work Spira and Mirabassi give in combining their two musical loves.
Ocean Dance; Lawns; After Rain; Gymnopedie No. 1; Improkofiev Suite (Improkofiev / New York Dream / No Strings
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