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Burgstaller Martignon 4: Mozart's Blues Dreams & Other Crossover Fantasies

Dan McClenaghan By

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When the name Mozart is part of the title of a jazz disc, combined with the word blues, the safe bet is that it's a crossover listening experience at hand. Crossover is a newer term for the mix of classical and jazz sounds, but it works as well—better perhaps—than the Third Stream tag that was coined by Gunther Schuller.

Mozart's Blues Dream is the brainchild of trumpeter Joe Burgstaller, best known for his work with the Canadian Brass, and the Grammy-nominated pianist Hector Martignon, who have put together the Burgstaller Martignon 4 quartet to stir up some musical styles.

The set's title tune is based on Mozart's "Piano Sonata No. 11 in A Major." Jazz liberties are taken, starting with "Dig That Mozart (Rhondo Alla Turca)," a polished and supremely lively up-tempo strut, with Martignon injecting a Vince Guaraldi-like sparkle behind Burgstaller's pinpoint precision trumpet that switches from pure, clean tones to Cootie Williams (of Duke Ellington fame) wildcat growls. "Straight Ahead (Variation 1) is solo Martignon, playing a straight classical mode, and "Mozart... Busted!!" features Burgstaller with a piercing tone on his muted horn in front of a relaxed Hans Glawischnig bass teamed with John Ferrari's loose-limbed drum shuffle, sounding very jazzy indeed, a take on Mozart that makes the composer sound hip and approachable from a non-classical listener's perspective.

Following the Mozart jazz is "Chopin Meets Jobim," a marriage of the classical composer's "Prelude No. 4 in E Minor" and Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Insensatez," a tune that was based on Chopin's composition. Martignon explores the spare beauty of the Chopin's tune in opening, and is soon joined by trumpeter Burgstaller, followed by the smooth, bossa flow of the ensemble.

On Chick Corea's "Three Children's Songs," percussionist Joe Ferrari adds a vibraphone to the mix, adding an expansive glow to the proceedings on Corea's simple and simply beautiful melodies. Claude Bolling's five part "Toot Suite," including "Mystique," the stately highlight that showcases the duel virtuosities of Burgstaller and Martignon, leads into a couple of tunes from the pen of Astor Piazzolla, the man who brought the Argentinean tango out of the back alleys into the concert halls, to close things out with a majestically sublime beauty.

And lastly, there is Duke Ellington's "Echoes of Harlem," sandwiched between Chopin and Chick Corea. This will be a highlight for Ellington enthusiasts, with Burgstaller again conjuring the spirit of one of the Duke's favorite trumpeters, Cootie Williams, with plunger mute groans and jungle cat howls, a prowling piano and a cool daddy rhythm. Marvelous!

Track Listing: Mozart Blues Dreams: Dig That Mozart, Straight Ahead, Mozart...Busted!!, Bloom Mozart, Theme; Chopin Meets Jobim; Echoes of Harlem; Three Children's Songs: No. 1, No. 4, No. 7; Toot Suite: Allegre, Mystique, Rag Polka, Vesperale, Spirituelle; Ave Maria; Oblivion.

Personnel: Hector Martignon: piano; Joe Burgstaller: trumpet, flugelhorn; Hans Glawischnig: bass; John Ferrari; percussion.

Title: Mozart's Blues Dreams & Other Crossover Fantasies | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Summit Records

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