RICHARD SUSSMAN: Evolution Suite – Richard Sussman – p., electronics, & others – Zoho

RICHARD SUSSMAN:  Evolution Suite – Richard Sussman – p., electronics, Scott Wendholt – trumpet, Flugel horn, Rich Perry – tenor sax, Mike Richmond – acoustic & elec. bass, Anthony Poinciotti – drums/ The Sirius Quartet, With special guest: Zach Broc – elec. violin – Zoho CD ZM 201614, 71:00 (10/7/16) [Distr. by Allegro] *** 1/2:

An important classical/jazz work but hurt a bit by the lack of a great recording.

Richard Sussman’s ground-breaking The Evolution Suite for Jazz Quintet, String Quartet, and Electronics is the culmination of almost a decade of development. This five-movement, hour-long composition was funded by a Chamber Music America New Jazz Works Grant, and premiered and recorded on December 20, 2015, at the Leonard Nimoy Thalia at Symphony Space in New York City.

The work is a fusion of jazz and classical music. Composer Richard Sussman said it best: “”By combining jazz improvisation and many diverse rhythms and instrumental textures from throughout the world with contemporary classical music, I feel we can more truly reflect and more strongly connect with a wider cross-section of the multi-cultural society in which we live.”

The disc includes another work, called Prevolution, a 10-minute track Sussman considers a ‘prequel’ to the composition of the Evolution Suite.

The classical/jazz fusion work is a good listen, with some inspired playing by the soloists and the Sirius Quartet. Two added bonus tracks include shorter tracks of movement II and V, edited for radio play.

This is a pretty good recording, with a nice spread of the instruments between the stereo speakers. It sounds like it was recorded some distance from the ensemble, giving a ‘live in the hall sound’, but with some sacrifice of detail from the individual instruments. The high frequencies are just a bit muted, but again, overall, the recording is a good, but not exemplary  one. The recording was done during a live performance.

This disc should appeal to jazz fans and open-minded classical listeners. The compositions are interesting, and the participants are all excellent musicians. My only complaint, and it is minor, is that the recording doesn’t soar to the same heights as the music.

—Mel Martin

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