Lalo Schifrin

Metamorphosis: Jazz Meets the Symphony, #4

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Lalo Schifrin's fourth attempt to merge symphonic and jazz conceptions takes a turn into dangerous waters, venturing into 20th century classical techniques and some of jazz's most challenging composers. It was a gutsy move to confront the mantle of Gil Evans by rearranging "La Nevada," ayet Schifrin spoons on the added orchestral weight carefully, retaining and deepening Evans' mauve colors and dissonance -- and it becomes a swinging delight. Moreover, Evans' sonorities become the dominant colors in the succeeding pieces "Sanctuary," a suave, moody piece of work balancing both camps with assurance, and the "Tosca Variations," where the aria "E lucevan le stelle" is cleverly launched by Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. Schifrin makes complex, appropriately quirky, even forbidding music out of a string of Thelonious Monk tunes in "Miraculous Monk" and continues the disturbing intensity on "Invisible City" before relaxing expansively in "Rhapsody For Bix"; the latter features a splashy, un-Bix-like soloist in trumpeter James Morrison. The cast of players changes considerably from previous albums; Morrison and Ray Brown remain in place, now joined by the London Symphony Orchestra, violinist/guitarist Markus Wienstroer, drummer Jeff Hamilton and conguero Francisco Aguabella -- not to mention Schifrin himself on piano. Though one shouldn't use this disc as an entryway into the Jazz Meets the Symphony series, it is the boldest CD of the lot so far, unleashing the full resources of contemporary classical music and welding it firmly onto a jazz chassis.

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