Album Remarks & Appraisals:
The Turtle Island Quartet, known for their innovative recordings, again raises the bar with a project ranging in style from jazz, classical and bluegrass to Indian music. There are classic jazz tunes, a solo cello tour de force, a "cool jazz" tune featuring vocalist Nellie McKay, and many more arrangements offering yet another Turtle Island Quartet masterpiece. A unique element of Turtle Island is their revival of improvisational and compositional chamber traditions not explored by string players for nearly two centuries. In Haydn's time, musicians were more akin to today's saxophonist's or keyboard masters of the jazz and pop world - improvisers, composers and arrangers, an area of expertise each Turtle Island member is accomplished in.
American Record Guide, March/April 2015
Confetti Man is a 20-minute, two-movement string quartet that is "an integration of jazz, classical, bluegrass, and Indian music". Celebratory of the joy the composer finds in each. The music certainly progresses through time in a logical way. The premise seems simpler: enjoy! The other music is fine as well. I particularly enjoyed 'Send Me No Flowers' - the Bacharach tune - and Balakrishnan's 'Alex in A Major'.
Liner Note Author: David Balakrishnan.
Recording information: Sauder Concert Hall, Goshen College, Indiana (01/09/2014-01/12/2014).
The Turtle Island String Quartet is among the most durable classical crossover ensembles in the U.S., dating back to the 1980s. Its membership has changed over the years, but its musical mix, shaped by violinist-founder David Balakrishnan, has remained remarkably consistent, featuring Indian-oriented compositions by Balakrishnan, jazz, abstract classical compositions, and sometimes bluegrass and other vernacular forms. The latter seems to have been laid aside on this release in favor of a delightful turn from vocalist Nellie McKay, who contributes a pleasantly strange version of the Burt Bacharach/Hal David tune "Send Me No Flowers," and arrangements of music by jazzmen Wayne Shorter and Bud Powell by new members Mateusz Smoczynski and Benjamin von Gutzeit. The album doesn't break new ground (except perhaps in the McKay tune, which reminds one of some of the wilder vocal numbers released by the Kronos Quartet over the years), but it's a representative release worth checking out for those who may be curious about this durable incubator of serious American crossover talent. The engineering from Cleveland's small Azica label continues to be well above average. ~ James Manheim