The fifth in the series by the legendary pianist (who played with Dizzy Gillespie, has done film scores, and also is accomplished in the classical field) breaks new ground by adding a full jazz band to the WDR Rundfunkorchester of Cologne; only Duke Ellington and Woody Herman attempted such an amalgam before. The orchestra blends well here with the rhythm section built on Christian McBride, Jeff Hamilton, and Schifrin himself; other featured performers are saxophonist David Sanchez and trumpeter James Morrison. Schifrin wrote the ambitious opening title track, which features Sanchez's honking tenor weaving in and out of a percussion weave of drums and strings; the middle of the piece features a conversation between drums and bass, then a wafting sax echoed by wild and swirling orchestral swells. The orchestra is used almost as a single instrument. Morrison's trumpet and flugelhorn are the focus of "Scheherazade Fantasy," which begins ominous and moody before evolving into a swinging big band-flavored number. Schifrin chooses an interesting array of material, from Coltrane's plaintive "Naima" to Horace Silver's whimsical "Tokyo Blues," which musically conveys the chaotic nature of city traffic. Another unique inclusion is Alex North's "Spartacus," which is given a lyrical reading by Sanchez without too much cacophony. An original approach to jazz by numerous masters.
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AllMusic Review by Jonathan Widran