Album Remarks & Appraisals:
Oxingale's first jazz release is also an important contemporary classical album, with music by composer David Sanford for the Pittsburgh Collective, a 20-piece big band, featuring cellist Matt Haimovitz in the four-movement concerto for cello and big band, 'Scherzo Grosso.' For 20 years Matt Haimovitz has played our favorite cello concertos across the globe as a soloist with the world's greatest orchestras. Now, in addition to the standards, Haimovitz brings his trailblazing spirit and acclaimed musicianship to a new series of concertos, commissioned from promising young and established composers. Dubbed "Buck the Concerto" commissions, each piece begins as a work scored for cello and an unexpected ensemble. The piece then lives on in an arrangement made by the composer for cello and symphony orchestra.
Personnel: Matt Haimovitz (cello); Ted Levine (reeds, alto saxophone); Geoff Vidal, Adam Kolker (reeds, tenor saxophone); Steve Moran (reeds, baritone saxophone); Brian McWhorter , Dave Ballou, Jon Nelson , Hiroshi Noguchi, Sycil Mathai (trumpet); Steve Gehring, Jim "Mondongo" Messbauer, Benjamin Herrington, Mike Christianson (trombone); Geoffrey Burleson (piano); Mark Raynes (drums).
Liner Note Author: David Sanford & the Pittsburgh Collective.
Recording information: Knitting Factory, New York, NY (05/29/2005).
Photographer: Laurie Straus.
Cushioned with the honors, grants and fellowships that academia can provide, composer David Sanford feels perfectly free to combine the more experimental aspects of big-band jazz and classical music in his Pittsburgh Collective -- caught here live on the road at the Knitting Factory in New York City. This is a progressive big band that operates more in the freewheeling manner of many European big bands, crossing into the contemporary classical music camp without a care and often with complexity and wildness. "Alchemy" opens the set with the wail of a memory of Dizzy Gillespie bop at its most flamboyant juxtaposed with Webern-like abstraction. "V-Feel" is almost atonal in its fragmented crazy angles before settling down to a funk backbeat. "Link Chapel" -- with obvious allusions to Morton Feldman's "Rothko Chapel" -- is a fascinating mood study in mostly pulseless dissonance, almost completely outside jazz. Yet Sanford can display a sense of humor in "Una Notte All'Opera" as he sends up brassy Verdi, or harken back to an earlier, simpler, more sentimental form of big band voicings in "Bagatelle," capped by solo pianist Geoff Burleson's tip of the cap to Ravel. The big central work of the set is "Scherzo Grosso," a wide-ranging, often rigorously cerebral, sometimes roaring four-movement concerto for cello and big band that Sanford wrote for the star classical cellist Matt Haimovitz. Mind you, Haimovitz doesn't actually improvise, nor play actual jazz or rock. He does play with a rhythm section frequently, yet it almost doesn't matter what the backing is, for Haimovitz is always given non-swinging classical parts to play. Certainly, this appearance speaks well of his affinity for new music, as well as his mastery of the long-limbed lyrical capabilities of the cello. With drummer Mark Raynes deftly improvising a dialogue alongside him, Haimovitz also performs the thorny "Seventh Avenue Kaddish," a 9/11 memorial piece. ~ Richard S. Ginell
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