Learn How

Help improve All About Jazz

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. For $20, we'll hide those pesky Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

148

Vicious World: Plays the Music of Rufus Wainwright

Andrew J. Sammut By

Sign in to view read count
Vicious World: Plays the Music of Rufus Wainwright Vicious World might have a field day on its tribute to the music of Rufus Wainwright, except the tunes are rarely that lighthearted. Let's just say the septet is moved to musical tears by the singer/songwriter's earnest melodies and bittersweet harmonies.

Even that's putting it mildly. Anxious strings introduce Aaron Irwin's alto sax on the dejected "Going to a Town." "Natasha" pits the innocence of violin and clarinet against Matthew McDonald's bittersweet trombone, choreographing a beautiful, fragile ballad. "This Love Affair" features McDonald brooding over a rock feel with Sebastian Noelle's splayed guitar, while the guitarist spirals and pauses over the reflective chord changes of "The Art Teacher." Wainwright's music never lets too much light (or lightness) in, and Vicious World's probing solos and clever arrangements create a canvas from multiple shades of darkness.

Violinist Eliza Cho and cellist Maria Jeffers are put to poignant use throughout, even if they often stick to tremolo effects. Joined by bassist Thomson Kneeland on "Memphis Skyline," they form a rich string trio that eschews lush sentimentality or pseudo-classical allusions.

More upbeat moments still well up, with tears alongside the laughter, as the whimsical stage band ambiance and Danny Fischer's popping snare drum define "Matinee Idol." "Millbrook" is a short, tender hymn to the composer's high school, in quaint counterpoint under Irwin's saxophone, while his clarinet work on "Peach Trees" offers a playful foil to the cool alto cultivated on the rest of the album.

Noelle and Kneeland regularly play with Irwin's New York-based band, and Vicious World (named after another Wainwright tune) has been exploring the music of Wainwright and other contemporary pop artists since 2005. Their familiarity with each others' styles is evident, as are the structural and emotional nuances of this repertoire. "Dinner at Eight" ends the disc with a lazy waltz, fading in and out of free time, giving the impression of seven old friends recalling the good times and the bad, as soloist and accompanist are locked in sensitive interplay.

Vicious World treats Wainwright's songs as it would any jazz standard: with an open mind and solid musicianship. An abundance of melancholy aside, this album raises the spirits after taking them on several emotional detours. Difficult journeys once again turn out to be the most rewarding.


Track Listing: Going to a Town; Natasha; This Love Affair; Memphis Skyline; Leaving for Paris; Matinee Idol; Peach Trees; Millbrook; The Art Teacher; In a Graveyard; Dinner at Eight.

Personnel: Aaron Irwin: alto saxophone, clarinet and flute; Matthew McDonald: trombone; Sebastian Noelle: guitar; Thomson Kneeland: bass; Danny Fischer: drums; Eliza Cho: violin; Maria Jeffers: cello.

Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Spinaround Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Related Video

Shop

More Articles

Read #knowingishalfthebattle CD/LP/Track Review #knowingishalfthebattle
by Mark F. Turner
Published: January 23, 2017
Read Live In Brooklyn CD/LP/Track Review Live In Brooklyn
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 23, 2017
Read King Of Xhosa CD/LP/Track Review King Of Xhosa
by James Nadal
Published: January 23, 2017
Read Blooming Tall Phlox CD/LP/Track Review Blooming Tall Phlox
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 23, 2017
Read Hear & Now CD/LP/Track Review Hear & Now
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: January 22, 2017
Read Known-Unknown CD/LP/Track Review Known-Unknown
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: January 22, 2017
Read "Resolution" CD/LP/Track Review Resolution
by Dave Wayne
Published: November 15, 2016
Read "Everyone Is Everyone Else" CD/LP/Track Review Everyone Is Everyone Else
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 13, 2016
Read "Matterhorn" CD/LP/Track Review Matterhorn
by Dave Wayne
Published: February 11, 2016
Read "Bambulaye" CD/LP/Track Review Bambulaye
by James Nadal
Published: March 10, 2016
Read "Testimony" CD/LP/Track Review Testimony
by Jack Bowers
Published: January 13, 2017
Read "Isn't Life Grand" CD/LP/Track Review Isn't Life Grand
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 29, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Get Jazz Near You via email!

Enjoy the convenience of receiving a comprehensive listing of jazz events in your area every Thursday. It's free!