Allyn Ferguson

Pictures at an Exhibition: Framed in Jazz

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Since Modest Mussorgsky's piano suite has been orchestrated by numerous classical composers (the best known is Maurice Ravel's version), it has been given a dubious rock treatment by Emerson, Lake & Palmer and played on synthesizer by Tomita, so why not a jazz big band version? It turns out that bandleader Allyn Ferguson beat both ELP & Tomita to the punch, but his master tape lay forgotten in a vault for nearly 27 years, finally being released in 1989. Anyone familiar with the original work who loves big band jazz should enjoy this delightful CD. The guest soloist is alto saxophonist and flautist Paul Horn, long before his switch to new age solo outings. Bud Shank, Bill Perkins, John Pisano, and Howard Roberts are also in the band, but the focus is upon Ferguson's swinging charts for the most part. The musical interlude "Promenade," "The Ox-Cart," and "The Old Witch" show how well Ferguson can convey the mood of the original works in a jazz setting. The remaining tracks by the Chamber Jazz Sextet include a mix of standards and originals, but should be considered a bonus to the main attraction. Warning: this CD should not be played in front of snobby classical purists!

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