Lalo Schifrin

Firebird: Jazz Meets the Symphony No. 3

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The third in Lalo Schifrin's series of grand fusions between the London Philharmonic and an all-star jazz combo is the most successful one yet. The immovable objects of symphony orchestra and jazz group are getting more closely in sync, thanks to the irresistible forces of Schifrin's long experience in both camps and his own luscious personal orchestral signatures. Ray Brown, Grady Tate, Jon Faddis (in particularly prime form), James Morrison, and Paquito D'Rivera return from Vol. 2, as does the Schifrin method of juxtaposing tribute medleys to deceased giants with classical pastiches, standards, and some of Schifrin's new pieces and greatest hits. Joe Zawinul's "Birdland," the leadoff track, has the most energy and fire from both quarters, while the inclusion of the most lucrative eight notes Schifrin ever wrote, the theme from Mission: Impossible, was fortuitous timing (the hugely successful movie came out at about the same time). The idea of "Firebird" stems from an imaginary conversation between Charlie Parker and Stravinsky (not a new idea), but the concept doesn't quite come off, for they seem to be talking past each other in separate tongues. Much better is Schifrin's suave, swinging fusion of Gershwin's "An American in Paris" and Bud Powell's "Parisian Thoroughfare"; these two have plenty to say to each other. The whole thing is gorgeously and spaciously recorded; this should be a demonstration disc for hi-fi shows.

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