Bay Area-resident clarinetist, composer and arranger Mark Sowlakis' Sinfonetta is a rich amalgam of two genres that have not always found common ground in the pastjazz and classical music. Because Sowlakis is so thoroughly trained in both fields, the project comes off almost without a hitch. He plays with some of New York's best, if underrecorded musicians, including fellow clarinetist Perry Robinson, pianist Frank Kimbrough, and Ed and George Schuller (bass and drums respectively).
Among the strongest tracks on Sinfonetta are George Gershwin's sumptuous "Second Prelude" from Porgy and Bess and classical composer Eric Satie's well-known "Gymnopedie." Along with his solo take on "Prelude from Suite I for Unaccompanied Cello," Sowlakis' rich, full and flawless tone on clarinet and bass clarinet are striking. Robinson, serving as a special guest, meshes well with the date's leader. Also especially noteworthy are the note-perfect piano stylings of Jay Jackson on "Second Prelude" and Kimbrough on Bill Evans' "Time Remembered." The gentle, unobtrusive accompaniment of brothers Ed and George Schuller adds to the album's sense of enchantment. Sinfonetta is a self-confident and joyful affair, certainly deserving wider attention and radio airplay.
Track Listing: Simple Beauty; Seaside Sanctuary; Second Prelude; Alister's Theme;
Call; Sinfonetta; Gymnopedie; Further Meditations on Simple Beauty; Time
Remembered; Prelude for Suite I for Unaccompanied Cello.
Personnel: Mark Sowlakis: clarinet, bass clarinet; Perry Robinson: clarinet; Frank
Kimbrough, Jay Jackson: piano; Ed Schuller: bass; George Schuller: drums; Eddie Sassin:
I was first exposed to jazz when I discovered that one of Jimi Hendrix's influences was Wes Montgomery. I played guitar growing up and idolized Hendrix, so I knew that anyone he looked up to must be good
I was first exposed to jazz when I discovered that one of Jimi Hendrix's influences was Wes Montgomery. I played guitar growing up and idolized Hendrix, so I knew that anyone he looked up to must be good. I was 16 at the time. I went to Tower Records and purchased a CD by Wes, and I was hooked from the very first ten seconds. The sound of the song Lolita illuminated my bedroom, as I just sat back amazed at how colorful and soulful this music was--I understood it, even though at the time I didn't understand how to go about playing it. I get chills listening to Wes' solo on Lolita, and I can still listen to that song ten times in a row and never get tired of it. There is a truly timeless quality to genuinely spontaneous jazz music, and it is that quality that has inspired me to devote my life to studying and playing this music.