[Daniel Barry – cornet, melodica, misc. percussion; James DeJoie – bass clarinet, clarinet, flute, bari sax; Alicia Allen – violin; Ruth Marshall- cello; Steve Rice – accordion; Chris Symer – doublebass, Scott Ketron – drums, congas; Guests: Susan Pascal – vibes (9), marimba (12); Ernesto Pedianco – congas (1); Will Dowd – cajon (5)]
Why does this CD title make me think of Mel Brooks? Unfortunately there’s no notes on the jewel box about Daniel Barry and his fine arranging and conducting work with the Seattle Women’s Jazz Orchestra, and there’s nothing in the note booklet inside either. I suppose many seeing this album in the store would be quick to note the variety of instruments represented among the ten players, and that would give them an idea of the wonderful mix of sounds coming from jazz, world music and classical in this highly rhythmical collection of swinging chamber music. Jazz purists will probably turn up their noses at such efforts, but I must confess if an ensemble has a cello, flute or accordion in it I’m probably going to find it at least interesting.
The sound and style of the dozen originals is difficult to pin down, partly because it switches continually from one influence to another. Sometimes it sounds like folk music from the Old Country, other times like a sort of sophisticated modern gypsy music, and again like some Caribbean or South African High Life music. Two of the pieces make use of classical compositions, including one by Corelli, and Nini’s Dream – the longest track on the CD – mixes a gypsy-like violin theme with Barry’s peppery cornet licks and washes of accordion sounds. Fuga Bembe, as the title suggests, incorporates a fugue and the accordion sounds like halfway between some South American folk music and Art Van Damme. Some of the selections turn to a more classical chamber music sound with the strings predominating, but with quirky twists that keep things more exciting and interesting. The writing is fresh and imaginative, and has a hip, tongue-in-cheek sort of style that sets it apart from most of the similar efforts of the “third stream” period.
TrackList: Mighty Urubamba, Prayer, Pastorale Zipoli, Nini’s Dream, La Folia Lando, Fuga Bembe, Still Life, Walk All Ways, Somewhere Far Away, Junebug, Nandini, Pharoah’s Gathering.
– John Henry