Blue Chamber Quartet

Rhapsody in Blue

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Several classically trained chamber ensembles have found fresh inspiration in jazz, so the crossover repertoire of the Blue Chamber Quartet is not especially surprising, though the group's instrumentation is a bit novel. Comprised of harp, piano, vibraphone, and piano, this Austrian-German quartet has an adaptable tonal palette that works well in either classical or jazz music, though there is a certain traditional conservatory approach in the playing. The tracks that most display a flexible jazz feeling are Mark Glentworth's Blues for Gilbert and Allen Shawn's Three Dance Portraits, and they fulfill the group's promise of expanding stylistic parameters and permitting spontaneity and some improvisation. The more conventional arrangements are Leonard Bernstein's Overture to Candide, Isaac Albéniz's Suite española, and George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, which follow the originals closely without stretching much beyond the written notes. Yet this is the balancing act these musicians perform, and even though they seem to rely on classical discipline, they play with the tone colors and syncopated rhythms of jazz in appealing and inventive ways. They are sure to win many fans with this engaging 2015 release.

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