201

The Ebony Big Band: The Music of Robert F. Graettinger: Live at the Paradiso

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
The Ebony Big Band: The Music of Robert F. Graettinger: Live at the Paradiso Robert Graettinger, who made his mark as a composer / arranger for Stan Kenton’s “Innovations in Modern Music” Orchestra (1947-51), is remembered today by no more than a small circle of jazz aficionados who heard and appreciated such groundbreaking works as “City of Glass” and “Thermopylae,” among others.

Graettinger was only thirty-four when he succumbed to cancer in 1957, and the bulk of his scores, many of which were never recorded or even performed, languished in obscurity for decades until brought to light by Werner Herbers, founder and conductor of the Netherlands’ Ebony Big Band, which “is concerned with the performance of modern, unusual and adventurous music” with “attention devoted to the work of less well-known composers worthy of (re)discovery.” Few composers match that description more accurately than Robert Graettinger.

Some of Graettinger’s scores were found in the Jazz Studies department at the University of North Texas in Denton, which has housed Kenton’s musical estate (including more than 2,300 charts) since Stan’s death in 1979; others were found in the university library’s manuscript department. Some of the documents were in poor condition, and none had been completed (Werners inserted the missing pieces); with one exception, they were shorter works intended to fill space on 78rpm recordings of Kenton’s “normal” repertoire (including provocative treatments of several well-known standards).

The anomaly is the three-movement “Suite for String Trio and Wind Quartet,” which is performed here in a concert setting with eighteen other compositions and / or arrangements by Graettinger. Included are five untitled originals, one of which was apparently written for trombonist Frank Rosolino, another for trumpeter Conte Candoli. Ebony’s Martijn Sohier sits in for Rosolino, Jan Wessels for Candoli.

The revelation here is the accessibility of Graettinger’s arrangements, which are always sophisticated and demanding but by and large free of ostentation and dissonance. American-born and classically-trained vocalist Claron McFadden joins the band on four selections (“Loverman,” “Too Marvelous for Words,” “Fine & Dandy,” “Everything Happens to Me”) and is appropriately seductive, even though her gossamer soprano is often overwhelmed by Graettinger’s ear-splitting explosions of brass and reeds. It’s clear that the Ebony Band has an affinity for the composer’s unconventional temperament, having performed his music at the 1993 and ’99 Holland Festivals and issued a recording of one of those concerts, City of Glass (Channel Crossings 6394) with conductor Gunther Schuller.

This second album enables one to envision how the celebrated Stan Kenton Orchestra might have played Graettinger’s groundbreaking charts, although Stan presumably would have earmarked more space for some of his world-class soloists. There are no more than a handful of solos here, by Wessels, Sohier, tenor Maartin Ornstein and guitarist Wiek Hijmans — but Graettinger’s charts are so persuasive that one scarcely notices.

The Ebony Band deserves praise for shedding new light on a talented but sadly neglected composer / arranger who clearly was years ahead of his time and most of his contemporaries.

Contact: Channel Classics Records BV, Waaldijk 76, 4171 CG Herwijnen, the Netherlands. Web site, www.channel.nl; e-mail clubchannel@channel.nl. U.S. distributor, P.O. Box 5642, Englewood, NJ 07631; phone 201-568-1544; fax 201-568-6146.


Track Listing: Moishoaro; Beachcomber; Afternoon; Loverman; I Only Have Eyes for You; Too Marvelous for Words; Irresistible You; Condolence; Untitled Original; Suite for String Trio and Wind Quartet; Transparency; Untitled Original; Autumn in New York; Fine & Dandy; I

Personnel: Leo van Oostrom, Michiel van Dijk, alto sax; Maarten Ornstein, David Kweksilber, tenor sax; Albert Beltman, baritone sax; Bob Stoel, Fred Molenaar, horn; Jelle Schouten, Peter Masseurs, Jan Wessels, Frits Damrow, Hans Alting, trumpet; Martijn Sohier, Harrie de Lange, Fans Theeuwen, Joan Reinders, Hansj

Title: The Music of Robert F. Graettinger: Live at the Paradiso | Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Channel Crossings


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Antidote CD/LP/Track Review Antidote
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 29, 2017
Read The Colours Suite CD/LP/Track Review The Colours Suite
by Mark Sullivan
Published: June 29, 2017
Read Musical Journey Through Time CD/LP/Track Review Musical Journey Through Time
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 29, 2017
Read Gentle Giants CD/LP/Track Review Gentle Giants
by Troy Dostert
Published: June 29, 2017
Read The Company I Keep CD/LP/Track Review The Company I Keep
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 28, 2017
Read Ma De Re Sha CD/LP/Track Review Ma De Re Sha
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 28, 2017
Read "Meditation / Resurrection" CD/LP/Track Review Meditation / Resurrection
by Mark Corroto
Published: June 8, 2017
Read "Daylight Ghosts" CD/LP/Track Review Daylight Ghosts
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "Secular Hymns" CD/LP/Track Review Secular Hymns
by John Eyles
Published: September 10, 2016
Read "Trickster" CD/LP/Track Review Trickster
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: May 11, 2017
Read "The Failure of Words" CD/LP/Track Review The Failure of Words
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 24, 2017
Read "Marching Song Volumes 1 & 2 Plus Bonus Tracks" CD/LP/Track Review Marching Song Volumes 1 & 2 Plus Bonus Tracks
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 31, 2017

Smart Advertising!

Musician? Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with our Premium Profile service.