Composer/pianist Lalo Schifrin endures as an interesting film music composer for, among other things, his ability to enhance or create effective moods. For this, the fourth in his "jazz meets the symphony" series, Schifrin concocts perhaps his most moody affair yet and, perhaps, the nicest of the bunch since the second set on Atlantic (1993). Again fronting the London Symphony Orchestra, Schifrin reunites on this 1998 recording with trumpeter James Morrison and bassist Ray Brown and adds drummer Jeff Hamilton, conga man Francisco Aguabella and guitarist / violinist Markus Wienstroer to the rhythm section.
The jazz tributes this time out include a fascinating, highly-orchestrated Monk medley (peppered with Schifrin's surprisingly Monk-like piano) and a lovely Gershwin-like memorial to Bix Beiderbeck ("Rhapsody for Bix") featuring Morrison. The two Schifrin originals (the pretty Latin shuffle of "Sanctuary" and the filmic "Invisible City") are beauties and quite reminiscent of his Verve jazz days (interesting to note that Schifrin doesn't explore past compositions here as he has on previous jazz / symphony discs). Schifrin's strength in provocative arrangements is explored on a stirring take of Gil Evans' "La Nevada" (showcasing Wienstroer's violin) and the unique, jazzy "Tosca Variations."
Too often Schifrin is thought of as a film composer who plays jazz or an arranger who conducts orchestras rather than a renaissance musician capable of serving each of his passions equally well. Metamorphosis is sufficient evidence that one endeavor can appeal to all such varieties of Schifrin's audiences. It's a real treat for jazz lovers and those who appreciate Schifrin's orchestral abilities too – with nary a concession to compromise either way. Available via mail-order atwww.schifrin.com .
Personnel: James Morrison: trumpet, flugelhorn; Lalo Schifrin: arranger, conductor, piano; Markus Wienstroer: jazz violin, guitar; Ray Brown: bass; Jeff Hamilton: drums; Francisco Aguabella: congas; London Symphony Orchestra.