Jazz & The Philharmonic (2014)Featuring: Bobby McFerrin/ Chick Corea/ Dave Grusin/ Terrence Blanchard/ Mark O’Connor/ Eric Owens/ Elizabeth Joy Roe/ Shelly Berg/ Desmond Richardson/ Henry Mancini Institute Orch. Studio: Sony Masterworks/ OKeh Records 8843-03338-2 [2/25/14] (2 discs: DVD + CD) Dedicated to the memory of Phil Ramone Video: 16:9 color Audio: English DTS 5.1, PCM 2.0 Rating: ****1/2
There have been a number of attempts to meld the two musical art forms of classical and jazz, by many great musicians and composers. This is one of the latest and is extremely successful in its goals. Award-winning producer Larry Rosen, of GRP Records and others, put together this concert as part of a Jazz Roots series in Miami Florida in January 2013, and it aired on PBS stations last month.
The concert features world class stars of both classical and jazz genres who explore the music of Bach, Strauss, Copland, Rodrigo, Gershwin, Mancini, Grusin, Corea and McFerrin. For those names some readers may not know, Terence Blanchard is a trumpet virtuoso and composer who has done many Sony CDs, won a Grammy and Emmy award. Mark O’Connor is an award-winning violinist and composer who has won multiple Grammys and the Country Music Award, Eric Owens is a Grammy-winning MET opera star, Shelly Berg is a pianist and music director with a Grammy, Elizabeth Joe Roe is an acclaimed piano virtuoso and half of the piano duo Anderson & Roe, and the Henry Mancini Orchestra is America’s leading fellowship orchestra.
The amazing Bobby McFerrin does his thing with the audience; especially good is his “Solo I” with just a hand-held mic and sitting in a chair in front of the audience. The 5.1 surround is especially effective when the audience joins in on his improvisation. He also does an improvised duo on “Armando’s Rhumba” with pianist Chick Corea which is also a winner. Corea’s fame is tied now to his composition “Spain,” which is here part of a medley with Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez theme – engraved on the memories of many listeners by the Miles Davis/Gil Evans efforts on the album Sketches of Spain. The blending of jazz and classical makes for an absolutely superb piece that skillfully achieves the goal of this concert mixing the two genres. The basso improvisations of Eric Owens are great to hear, and both Chick and Terrence Blanchard do some terrific solos. Dave Grusin turns in a lovely performance of his composition Mountain Dance together with violinist Marc O’Connor. The concert concludes with everyone joining in on the rather pedestrian Also Sprach Zarathustra opening theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey.
The late Phil Ramone was the engineer on this concert and Larry Rosen put together an excellent program that early met it goals. It was somewhat disconcerting that at times there was no audience in the seats and at other times a full house. The CD is nice for listening to only the music in the car or elsewhere but the DVD is the main interest here.
TrackList:1. Autumn Leaves 2. Fugue in C Minor 3. Spanish Suite (Concierto de Aranjuez – Spain) 4. Simple Gifts 5. Mountain Dance 6. Soloings 1 7. The Man I Love 8. Solfeggietto 9. Charade