There have been numerous interpretations of classical music by jazz musicians, but trombonist Samuel Blaser opted to explore less common ground by arranging music by Renaissance and Baroque composers, assisted by drummer Paul Motian, pianist Russ Lossing, and bassist Thomas Moran. Most of his focus is on the works of Claudio Monteverdi, starting with a loping, shimmering setting of Lamento della Nifa that features Motian providing a constant background for the leader's poignant trombone, with Lossing and Moran darting in and out of the picture at times. Riotornello is a free-spirited, loose interpretation, while Blaser utilizes the vocal/trombone technique popularized by Tricky Sam Nanton in Duke Ellington's band in Si Dolce e I'Tormento in a powerful duet with Motian, though his sound is closer to what a modernist like Steve Turre uses. Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria -Atto Quatro, Scene II is transformed into a tense, somewhat abstract arrangement that could easily be used as a film soundtrack. Also valuable are his unique perspectives in approaching the music of Biago Marini and Girolamo Frescobaldi. This provocative CD should entice other jazz musicians to look for hidden gems in the vast world of classical music.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden