Mobtown Modern Big Band: The Re-(W)Rite of Spring

Back in the 40s, when Swing was King, big band leader Woody Herman collaborated with famous modern classical composer Igor Stravinsky and attempted to meld the best of both genres, producing Ebony Concerto. The problem with that piece back then, as with most of these amalgamations, is that the jazz portion of the music tends to simply try to fit into the classical mold. Wisely, arranger Darryl Brenzel takes the opposite route, using the framework of Stravinsky’s music as in the Rite of Spring, and make it adaptable to modern big band jazz harmonies and rhythms. This highly successful execution is exemplified in “Dances of the Young Girls,” which abounds in exciting drum work and some forward thinking guitar work by Steve Lesche. Likewise, Michael Johnston’s flugelhorn floats over the cascading harmonies on “Ritual Abduction” like a kayak over Niagara Falls, while the boppish “Ritual of the Rival Tribes” is as hip as you can get, with some nice sax work supplied by Paul White. Some James Brown funk ends the disc on “Sacrificial Dance” demonstrating that once again, jazz is a verb as well as a noun. Highly impressive.

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