The Sextet of Orchestra U.S.A.

Mack the Knife and Other Berlin Theatre Songs of Kurt Weill

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Third Stream, Gunther Schuller's well-intentioned but commercially doomed idea of forcing contemporary classical (i.e. serial) composition music to cohabit with hard bop, produced but a handful of fine recordings, most notably the classic 1960 Atlantic Jazz Abstractions and this 1964 sextet outing under the stewardship of trombonist Michael Zwerin. The choice of Kurt Weill's sleek and elegant compositions was astute: the bittersweet harmonies of Weill (who ultimately emigrated to the U.S. from Germany) lend themselves particularly well to jazz soloing, and accordingly, an outstanding rhythm section featuring the Modern Jazz Quartet's John Lewis (an enthusiastic advocate of Third Stream from its inception) and Connie Kay. Bassist Richard Davis is on hand to support some splendid horn work from Thad Jones, Nick Travis, Jerome Richardson, and most notably Eric Dolphy, whose wild bass clarinet leaps on "Alabama Song" are a pure joy to hear, and proof that the saxophonist's harmonic concept, while undeniably "out" for the standard-based harmonic repertoire of bop, was most definitely "in" the wider scheme of musical thought that Third Stream aspired to.

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