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Bach's Secret Files and More Crossover Fantasies

Notes & Reviews:

Crossover albums intertwining classical music and jazz are nothing new; the challenge of these recordings is to keep things interesting to fans of both camps -- no small feat. Fortunately, the Burgstaller Martignon 4 draw musicians rooted in modern classical music, including trumpeter Joe Burgstaller (formerly with the Canadian Brass and the Meridian Arts Ensemble) and percussionist John Ferrari (also a member of the Meridian Arts Ensemble), plus Latin jazz pianist Hector Martignon (who has recorded extensively as a leader and worked with Tito Puente, Ray Barretto, and Paquito d'Rivera, among others) and bassist Hans Glawischnig (who has played with Barretto, Chick Corea, Miguel Zenón, and James Moody, as well as recording as a leader), with Latin percussionist Samuel Torres guesting on several selections. The opening track, Burgstaller's "The River of Night," is an ear-opener as the quartet blends Bach's Prelude in C Minor with the trumpeter's enticing composition in a delightful Latin setting, featuring the composer on both muted and open horn. Bach's Aria is transformed with a light, airy Afro-Cuban arrangement by Burgstaller and Martignon. Impressionist composer Erik Satie's well-known Gymnopédie No. 1 retains its elegant air, with Ferrari switching to vibes, as the quartet transforms it into a potent vehicle for rich improvisation. Maurice Ravel's sensuous Piece en Forme de Habanera lends itself to jazz, with Burgstaller's delicious trumpet and Martignon's dramatic piano leading the way. Felix Mendelssohn's Lieder Ohne Worte - Opus 38, No. 2 seems inspired by the robust, bluesy work of the Modern Jazz Quartet (even though vibes are replaced by trumpet). Opera arias are less frequently explored by jazz groups, though Martignon's brilliant duet of Puccini's E Lucevan le Stelle (from Tosca) with Burgstaller may get more jazz musicians willing to explore the wealth of great opera music. Fans with open ears will be rewarded by hearing these outstanding performances. ~ Ken Dryden


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