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Working from the premise that music is a universal language with the power to bring people together, pianist Roberto Magris formed the Europlane Orchestra (actually a septet), three of whose members are from Italy, the others from Austria, Slovenia, Croatia and the Czech Republic. And to broaden the concept even further, Europlane performs the music of German composer Kurt Weill in this generally entertaining concert recorded six years ago.
As music is all-inclusive, it matters little that some of these names are difficult (if not impossible) for Americans to pronounce; the pressing issue is, can they play? And the answer is yes, they can. But is their performance comparable to what one might hear in the States? Yes, it is. Magris is a world-class pianist (who neatly arranged everything and wrote the only non-Weill piece on the program, "New/Old Dreams ) and his allies are sharp and battle-tested.
Europlane (that is, the septet) appears on only two numbers, with the others scaled down into smaller frameworks. The concert begins and ends with the ballad "Is It Him or Is It Me? performed by Magris and soprano saxophonist Marco Castelli. Ines Reiger, the Austrian, sings (in English) on five of the eight selections, and although she has a soft, pleasing voice, to be honest, the lyrics are hard to understand. She is accompanied on the well-known "September Song by Castelli and bassist Frantisek Uhlir; on the lesser-known "Trouble Man by Uhlir, guitarist Darko Jurkovic and drummer Gabriele Centis; and on "Life, Love and Laughter" by Magris, Uhlir, Centis and Castelli, this time on tenor. The septet backs Reiger on "Thousands of Miles (on which her scatting shows she has listened more than casually to Ella Fitzgerald) and "This Is New. "New/Old Dreams is another wistful ballad, performed by Magris, Uhlir, Centis, Jurkovic and Castelli on soprano.
Even though you've presumably never heard these names before, don't let that dissuade you. This is nearly 53 minutes of high-caliber post bop jazz, adeptly performed by a group of highly talented musicians.
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.