Like the Modern Jazz Quartet, the foursome on this new release folds visions of great classical music into a mainstream jazz setting. Tchaikovsky's 1892 ballet has always provided special holiday vibes for the holidays. This year, Bob Belden's musical arrangements have put a new spin on it; still leaving a lot of space for veteran improvisation. The quartet swings.
Stefon Harris, 28, received his master's degree in jazz performance from the Manhattan School of Music in 1997. Strongly influenced by the music of Igor Stravinsky, the vibraphonist balances melody, harmony and rhythm on his instrument with an easy-going, fluid technique. Veteran pianist Kenny Barron has had a great deal of success in the past 10 years or so working with widely different artists; as have Ron Carter and Lewis Nash. Coming together for this interpretation, the quartet conjures up marching soldiers, relaxed dancers, a gentle waltz, and folk idioms from around the world. With each of the four participating equally, the quartet gets its unique character from all directions. Highly recommended, this one comes just in time for the holidays.
Track Listing: The Swingin' Nut (Overture Miniature); Marche Touche (March); Groove of the Sugar Plum Fairy (Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy); Blues a la Russe (Russian Dance Trepack); Bedouin Dreams (Arabian Dance); Oriental Rhythm (Chinese Dance); Mirlitonova (Dance of the Reeds); Vaunce of the Flowers (Waltz of the Flowers).
Personnel: Stefon Harris: vibraphone, marimba; Kenny Barron: piano; Ron Carter: bass; Lewis Nash: drums.
Rhythm Abstraction: Azure is the first volume of new compositions created as a follow up to 2018’s
release Rhythm Kaleidoscope. As with that release, Brock Avery improvised drum and percussion
solos. Frank Macchia then composed music for woodwinds and orchestra to Brock’s creations. Azure
is the first of three extended play albums of 6-7 compositions which will be released starting in
January and followed up in April and July. In Azure we have a created a group of pieces that continue
our quest for honoring the art of improvisation with a “stream-of-consciousness” sense of
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