Pavão Quartet

Someone to Watch Over Me

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The world is tragically full of string quartets desperate to prove that they can rock -- and those who know they can't rock often want to prove that they can swing. In the vast majority of cases, both groups are fooling themselves, if no one else. So any experienced listener will approach this disc with caution. But the Pavão Quartet have figured out something important: you don't have to swing to play jazz tunes convincingly. That may sound like heresy, but there's a difference between playing jazz and playing jazz tunes, and on this really quite delightful disc, the Pavãos play jazz tunes impressively without swinging more than occasionally and slightly. The key is the arrangements: all of these show tunes and jazz standards were arranged by Carlo Martelli, and many of them could pass for late-19th century parlor music. The style is romantic and fervid in a way that does begin to wear a little bit by the end, but each individual track is simply lovely. While no one would mistake this for "serious" music, there's quite a bit of elegance and witty stuff going on here, from the startlingly complex arrangement of "Fascinating Rhythm" to the exquisitely tender setting of "The Way You Look Tonight." The group was tempting fate with "It Don't Mean a Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing" -- it ain't, and it don't -- but the quartet's light and gently joyful rendition of "Singin' in the Rain" is one of the most perfect you're likely to hear. Definitely worth hearing.

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