The title Bach's Secret Files and More Crossover Fantasies might suggest several things. But none among them touches on the actual content of this album, which is a) jazz, not crossover, b) not concerned with secrets or secret files of any kind, and c) less than half filled with music by Bach. This said, the Burgstaller Martignon 4 (a quartet with Joe Burgstaller of the Canadian Brass on trumpet and Hector Martignon on keyboard) delivers an above-average outing of jazz-classical fusion. It claims to have taken off from the Modern Jazz Quartet's Bach experiments of the 1950s, but the playing bears very little resemblance to the MJQ's cool sound. Variety is an attractive hallmark, both in the overall range of classical pieces given the jazz treatment, and in more specific applications. Mendelssohn's Songs without Words probably have never been played as jazz before, but the quartet here essays two of them in completely different ways. The aria "E lucevan le stelle," from Puccini's Tosca, is another odd-sounding choice (opera has rarely been a source for jazz players), but in all these cases the presence of melodic raw material is enough to get the group going. The non-Bach tracks as a group are actually stronger than the Bach interpretations, but of the latter group sample "Erbarme dich" (not "Ebarme dich," as the track list has it), from the St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244; vocalist Brenda Feliciano sings the melody in long notes, while the jazz players ornament it. This is an unusual procedure for a jazz-classical fusion, and it points to the originality of the album as a whole.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Saint Matthew's Passion|