Yo-Yo Ma

Claude Bolling: Suite for Cello & Jazz Piano Trio

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Lots of composers fall head over heels for the cello, and Bolling's suite for classical cellist Yo-Yo Ma indicates that he finds this instrument a particularly noble, expressive vehicle for his classical/jazz musings. The distinctive Bolling formula still has plenty of mileage here, this time with a more expansive lyrical bent and no cutesy detours. "Baroque In Rhythm," in particular, sounds very fresh with its interpolations of boogie-woogie and ragtime amidst the Bachian counterpoint. "Romantique" is enlivened by some Brubeck-like chording and swinging from Bolling, and "Galop" has real panache. However, despite some inspired passages, the yawning, overlong lyrical stretches of "Concertante" and "Ballade" may try the patience of some jazz listeners. The brilliant Ma is more adaptable to the idea of classical/jazz fusion than most of his classical colleagues; he actually projects a sympathetic feeling for the written-out syncopated and quasi-bluesy passages. (Indeed, Ma's curiosity would later lead him to record all kinds of things like Argentine tangos, duets with Bobby McFerrin, and classical/C&W fusions with Mark O'Connor and Edgar Meyer). Bolling is his usual fleet, chameleonic pianistic self, with Marc Michel (bass) and Jean-Luc Dayan (drums) offering discreet, decently swinging support.

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