164

Classical Jazz Quartet: Plays Bach

By

Sign in to view read count
Classical Jazz Quartet: Plays Bach The Modern Jazz Quartet epitomized what some observers labeled, perhaps derisively, "chamber jazz." The recently formed Classical Jazz Quartet (CJQ), featuring bassist Ron Carter, pianist Kenny Barron, drummer Lewis Nash, and vibraphonist Stefon Harris have revived that elegant tradition. The group has followed up last year's The Nutcracker with Plays Bach.

As I listened to the opening theme of "Jesu, Joy Of Man's Desiring", and its all too faithful replication of the original opus, I dreaded the worst. Fortunately, though, that opening leads to what Dexter Gordon might've called a swingin' affair. The CJQ shifts from reverent to up-tempo in a heartbeat, transporting the piece from the cathedral to the Vanguard.

The songs were arranged by Bob Belden, and the most surprising thing about a few of the arrangements is how they bear so little resemblance to the Bach compositions. In a couple of cases, such as "Brandenburg Concerto #2, 1st Movement", there's very little sign of the powdered wig paradigm; Belden used only a section of the piece as the foundation for a more thorough investigation of its boundaries. The same is the case with "Oboe Concerto in A Major, 2nd Movement", where Belden uses the bare bones of that piece to construct a Latin-flavored blues. In these cases, Bach is so muted that he's almost suggested rather than actually present.

The group assembled to interpret these arrangements is itself a classic, with a Hall of Fame lineup of players. Carter, Barron and Nash remain platinum members of jazz's upper register, but it is young Harris who steals the spotlight. Harris is to the vibes what Keith Jarrett is to the piano, or Slam Stewart to the bass: a rhythmic driving force and performer who takes great joy in singing as he plays.

All things considered, Plays Bach is a well- executed, polished work. There is true passion in the playing and the band is right on point. Considering the composer in question, and the personnel involved, this was a can’t-miss prospect from jump.


Track Listing: Jesu, Joy of Man

Personnel: Kenny Barron

Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Classical Jazz | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Road to Forever CD/LP/Track Review Road to Forever
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Avenida Graham CD/LP/Track Review Avenida Graham
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 27, 2017
Read TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2) CD/LP/Track Review TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2)
by Nicola Negri
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Goat Man & The House of the Dead CD/LP/Track Review Goat Man & The House of the Dead
by Dave Wayne
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by James Nadal
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read "Free World Music" CD/LP/Track Review Free World Music
by Karl Ackermann
Published: July 31, 2016
Read "Sea Changes" CD/LP/Track Review Sea Changes
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: February 29, 2016
Read "Morning Glory" CD/LP/Track Review Morning Glory
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 8, 2016
Read "Gin Fizz Fandango" CD/LP/Track Review Gin Fizz Fandango
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 20, 2016
Read "Chasing Pixies" CD/LP/Track Review Chasing Pixies
by Eyal Hareuveni
Published: May 30, 2016
Read "One for Marian" CD/LP/Track Review One for Marian
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: June 14, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!