“Dragon” – Works for alto sax & sax quartet – Albany / DANIEL SMITH: Jazz Suite for Bassoon – Summit

A nice classical-jazz couple of CDs featuring bassoon & sax.

“Dragon” – Works for alto sax & sax quartet [TrackList follows] – William Perconti, alto sax/ Alloy Sax Quartet – Albany TROY1440, 49:25 ****: 

DANIEL SMITH: “Jazz Suite for Bassoon” [TrackList follows] – Daniel Smith, bassoon/ Bruce Boardman & Steve Grey, p./others/ The Caravaggio Ensemble – Summit DCD 656, 40:37 ****:

These works represent traditional Western classical music combined with jazz, pop, folk music, and even Asian and African music. The Alloy Saxophone Quartet was formed in order to explore contemporary music, Perconti is a graduate of Bowling Green State University, Baldwin Wallace Conservatory and the U. of Iowa. He is currently on the faculty of Lewis-Clark State College in Idaho.

There are eight separate works on the disc, by composers such as Rzewski, Joan Tower, Allen Blank, Hilary Tann and Joseph Martin Waters. Four works by Frederic Rzewski are performed: They consist of his various Spots.  The Allan Blank work is titled Contrasts, and consists of give separate numbered movements. The combination of sax and sax quartet seems to be much more to the point than that of sax and piano.

Smith is allegedly the most-recorded bassoonist in the world. He has been called “The Rampal of the bassoon in classical music.” French pianist and composer Jacques Loussier inspired Smith with his jazz arrangements of classical music, so his pianist redid some baroque piees for bassoon and jazz band, which were a big success. The Daniel Smith CD consists of three sections: The first has five short arrangements of Baroque Adaptations for Bassoon and Jazz Trio. They cover familiar melodies by Vivaldi, Byrd, Purcell and Bach, including Byrd’s The Earl of Salisbury, and Purcell’s Air on a Ground Bass.  Second are three rags by Scott Joplin, and lastly is the three-movement Jazz Suite for Bassoon by Steve Gray, a delightful little suite which proves that the bassoon can really swing as a jazz instrument. It combines flavors both old and new. The Caravaggio Ensemble consists of piano, two violins, viola, cello and doublebass.  Jazz musicians aid bassoonist Daniel Smith in the Gray’s Jazz Suite: Gray himself on piano; Mitch Dalton, guitar; Jim Lawless, vibes; Roy Babbington, doublebass; and Mike Smith, drums. The album was originally produced in London in l995-97.

TrackList [Dragon]:
RZEWSKI: 2 Spots
TOWER: Fantasy
RZESKI: 2 more Spots
ALLAN BLANK: Contrasts
HILARY TANN: Windhover
RZEWSKI: 3 Spots & 1 Shtick

TrackList [Jazz Suite]:
Baroque Adaptations for Bassoon and Jazz Trio =
Allegro from Concerto in Bb (VIVALDI)
The Earl of Salisbury (BYRD)
Air on a Ground Bass (PURCELL)
Badinerie (JS BACH)

The Chrysanthemum
The Easy Winners
Original Rags

Jazz Suite for Bassoon (STEVE GRAY) =

—John Sunier

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