Dewi Ellis Jones

Zimba Zamba: Solo Percussion

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Welsh percussionist Dewi Ellis Jones, the Beaumaris Band and Jazz Trio, and director Gwyn M. Evans present this 2005 collection of music for mallet instruments and ensemble with abundant energy, bright sonorities, and brilliant virtuosity, but offer too little musical substance or emotional depth to attract serious fans of percussion music. Several popular bonbons in slick arrangements, such as Rimsky-Korsakov's Flight of the Bumblebee, MacDowell's To a Wild Rose, Beethoven's Für Elise, and a synthesized excerpt from Vivaldi's Four Seasons, may be expected on a crossover artist's play list, but they give this CD a condescending, frivolous quality, and the program would be better without them. More interesting are the quiet, unfamiliar pieces that don't draw attention to themselves through glitz or bombast. The moving vibes piece Blues for Gilbert by Mark Glentworth, the sweet A Little Prayer by Evelyn Glennie (a rare piece of her juvenilia), and Jones' own arrangement of the Welsh folk song All Through the Night are delightful because they are simple and affecting, and utterly free of the noisy kitsch that otherwise dominates the disc. Granted, Jones is a talented performer who seems eager to please and to attract attention with a flashy debut, such as this disc. But unless he finds weightier material to explore and reduces the fluff, his future albums are unlikely to win over discriminating listeners.

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