Jazz Mozart: John di Martino & Uri Caine

Jim Santella By

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John di Martino's Romantic Jazz Trio
Jazz Mozart
Venus Records

Uri Caine Ensemble
Plays Mozart
Winter & Winter

Contained in Mozart's body of work is lyrical romance, genteel dance steps, polite, aristocratic society and melodies that linger. Two veteran pianists honor the composer while forming an alliance among disparate generations.

The trio session on Jazz Mozart features pianist John di Martino with double bassist Boris Kozlov and drummer Ernesto Simpson in a program of some of Mozart's more romantic pieces. The waltzes, in particular, carry a rewarding texture that allows for natural jazz interpretation. "The Fire of Passion , for example, from the "Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor , briskly ebbs and flows like the motion of our lungs, as we inhale the music's secret. "Fantasy in D minor moves with a deliberate air that calls out tension and release in a passionate state. The trio interprets "Lacrymosa (Requiem, K696) in a dark murmur that allows plenty of room for pensive thinking. Tender ballads such as "My Heart Needs to Know and "Arc of Love produce impressive results. diMartino has added one original piece, "Desert Journey , which contains an exotic charm of its own. Mozart created these works of art over 200 years ago and now di Martino redefines them as jazz masterpieces.

Uri Caine begins his homage to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) alone at the piano, interpreting the opening movement of the "Piano Sonata in C Major , first in its purely classical form and then alternating between jazz and classical textures. Caine was commissioned by the University of Mexico City to intepret these selected works in celebration of Mozart's 250th birthday and his eight-piece ensemble handles all the orchestral duties confidently, while adding spontaneous moments. Violinist Joyce Hammann provides the classical timbre, riding atop the jazz jaunts with high-flying thrills, while clarinetist Chris Speed, bassist Drew Gress and trumpeter Ralph Alessi stand firmly on both sides of the field. The scene shifts consistently between gentle and highly dramatic. The same can be said, of course, for Mozart's original compositions. But there's a difference. Mozart didn't have DJ Olive at the turntables, Jim Black on drums and Nguyen Lê on electric guitar. Caine delivers a fine tribute to the master, highly recommended for uniting numerous generations of music lovers.

Tracks and Personnel

Jazz Mozart

Tracks: The Fire of Passion (Piano Concerto #24 in C minor, K491); Soft, Like the Petals of a Rose (Piano Concerto #21 in C Major, K467); Desert Journey; I've Lost Her (The Marriage of Figaro, K492); Fantasy in D minor, K397; My Heart Needs to Know (Piano Concerto #27 in Bb Major, K595); Lacrymosa (Requiem, K696); The Willows Song (Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra in A Major, K622); Dance of the Wind (Symphony #40 in G minor, K550); Arc of Love (Piano Concerto #23 in A Major, K488).

Personnel: John di Martino: piano; Boris Kozlov: double bass; Ernesto Simpson: drums.

Plays Mozart

Tracks: Piano Sonata in C Major (K545, first movement); Symphony 40 in G Minor (K550, first movement); Symphony 41 in C Major (K551, second movement); Clarinet Quintet in A Major (K581, fourth movement); Piano Sonata in C Major (K545, second movement); Sinfonia Concertante in Eb Major (K364, third movement); Batti, Batti, O Bel Masetto; Bei Männern, Welche Liebe Fühlen/Der Hölle Rache Kocht in Meinem Herzen; Turkish Rondo from Piano Sonata in A Major; Piano Sonata in C Major (K545, third movement).

Personnel: Uri Caine: piano; Joyce Hammann: violin; Chris Speed: clarinet; Ralph Alessi: trumpet; Nguyen Lê: electric guitar; D.J. Olive: turntables; Drew Gress: double bass; Jim Black: drums.

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