Founded by the young Marin Alsop in the early 1980s, String Fever had diverse activities, including appearances on a pair of Billy Joel albums, and still performs. The ensemble was inadquately represented on recordings, probably because merchandisers could never figure out whether to classify them as classical, jazz, or pop. That, of course, remains the group's primary point of interest. Fever Pitch originally appeared in 1992 on a small label called Lizard, and Naxos faithfully reproduced it, including the original remarks of the composers (all apparently Americans despite their European-sounding names), for a 2012 reissue. It is worth hearing anew (or for the first time), for nobody has quite done anything like it, and it is more original than its companion String Fever release, It Don't Mean a Thing. The primary musical language is again swing, but the album has a completely non-nostalgic feel. All the music is original, and the four composers represented (David Rimelis, J. Billy Ver Planck, George Bogatko, and Michael Sahl) use the string orchestra medium to push the swing components in various directions. The strings basically play the role of the wind section in a traditional swing band but may be subdivided beyond what is normal (although not beyond what Duke Ellington would do), pushed into unusual harmonic realms, or transformed into a "sweet" swing group backing a melody. There are jazz-like solos for violin, cello, drums, and in one case Alsop herself whistling, but these are carefully controlled. The end result is peppy, crisp, and ensconced in a space that is almost but not quite jazz, keeping listeners on their toes with the collision of models involved. Lots of fun, and still suggestive of new fusions that would avoid the trap of taking themselves too seriously.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim