BEST JAZZ RECORDING OF 21ST CENTURY
As the liner notes explain, 9/11 may have put it on hold, but just like our country, the jihadist could not silence this wonderful jazz project designed to honor Miles Davis on his 75th birthday. Commissioned in 2001 by the Monterrey Jazz Festival the three-movement Birth of the Cool Suite arranged by the great Gunther Schuller was finally resurrected and recorded in 2005. And it was well worth the wait. This wonderful tribute music is contained in an expanded Joe Lovano "nonet" cd entitled Streams of Expressions. Lovano "expanded" it in two ways. First, for the BC Suite, Schuller added a flute chair and a clarinet-bass clarinet chair to Lovano's "Nonet". Next, Lovano created the "Lovano Ensemble" for this cd by the additon of the great Tim Hagans on trumpet and George Garzone on tenor.
In the past I have had a "problem" with tribute cds that re-write the original charts. For example Don Sebesky's Tribute to Duke Ellington called Joyful Noise and Bob Mintzer's tribute to Count Basie. Of course both of those cds won a Grammy (and both had John Riley and Dennis Irwin driving great NYC big bands). Once again I am proven wrong. Schuller's "rearranging" of Gil Evans' charts is simply wonderful. His voicings on Boplicity will send shivers down your spine. Not only does he add woodwinds as noted above, Schuller's use of Lovano on ALTO clarinet, Slagle on soprano and LaLama on clarinet with Garzone and Smulyan anchoring on tenor and bari respectively provides harmonic sensual textures that will make you play them over and over again (it did it for me). Of course all the solos (everyone gets his chance) are creative and exciting.
Lewis Nash and Dennis Irwin must be `joined at the hip' (actually their musical minds and hearts are joined) by now and their playing here shows it. Solid groove/impeccable swing time! There is one "MOLTO PRESTO" SECTION that is too fast for my metronome to count. During this burning section Gary Smulyan contributes an incredibly creative bari solo--he is the best on that instrument alive today!
The rest of the cd-the "Streams of Expression" part--is intentionally varied with Lovano soloing on alto clarinet and the "double soprano" instrument called an Aulochrome.
Lovano's addition of Tim Hagans (he was in the original Nonet that recorded the 52nd Street cd) is a double bonus. First, Hagans' solos once again prove that he is not only a trumpet virtuoso but also THE master of chromatic improvisation. If that wasn't enough, Hagans contributes the most interesting and challenging composition/arrangement on the cd. This great group of veteran NYC virtuoso jazz musicians executes the Hagans' tune Buckeyes (name doesn't do justice to the music) with apparent ease. Awesome ensemble work.
Add to all of the above a crystal clear recording (best recording to appreciate sax tones of Lovano and Smulyan) and jazz era mixing--and you have a new classic.
Thus I must nominate this cd as the greatest jazz ensemble cd of the 21st Century. And just as the Birth of the Cool has withstood the test of time, so will Streams of Expression. :!: