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Bach 2000 by David Matthews & The Manhattan Jazz Orchestra

There's a connection between jazz and Bach. As a virtuoso organist during the Baroque period, Bach was expected to develop bass lines and improvise, using the written music as a jumping-off point. Sound familiar? In recent times, this relationship has mainly been explored by keyboard artists : Uri Caine, Jacques Loussier (with his Play Bach Trio), Friedrich Gulda, George Shearing, the Brubecks and John Lewis. The MJQ's "Blues On Bach" is a classic. So it's no surprise that this performance was organized by composer, arranger -and pianist! - David Matthews . Matthews is a skillful and experienced big band arranger and about as eclectic as they come. For instance, among his many credentials is a long-term association with James Brown as conductor/arranger.

All the ingredients are here. Music by a composing genius. A conductor/arranger who understands! And the musicians! (If only Milestone had identified those innovative soloists, trumpeter Lew Soloff and reedman Bill Evans among them.) The 16-piece band is pianoless, and might appear on paper to be brass-heavy. Not so with Matthews' subtle arrangements. He takes "Minuet- A Lover's Concerto," one of Bach's top twenty, to the age of Aquarius and beyond. "Siciliano" has that Mediterranean flavor of the Gil Evans / Miles collaborations. From the opening bass line "Tocatta and Fugue" is a powerhouse.. "Air On The G String" is Bach himself at the start and finish and medium tempo moody in between. "Kyrie" opens with drama and then gets into a light contrapuntal swinging groove-you'll want to hear that one over and over!

If you are looking just to be soothed by Bach, you had better stick to the familiar. (Not the original - that was probably improvised!) However, for an exciting, creative and respectful treatment of that master's music, check out the Manhattan Jazz Orchestra and Bach 2000.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: David Matthews & The Manhattan Jazz Orchestra
  • CD Title: Bach 2000
  • Genre: Big Band / Swing
  • Year Released: 2001
  • Record Label: Milestone
  • Musicians: Lew Soloff, Ryan Kisor, Joe Shepley, Scott Wendholdt - trumpets; Jim Pugh, Larry Farrell, Birch Johnson - trombones; David Taylor - bass trombone; Fred Griffen, John Clark - french horns; Tony Price - tuba; Chris Hunger - alto, flute; Bill Evans - soprano, tenor, flute; Roger Rosenberg - bass clarinet; Chip Jackson - bass; Terry Silverlight - drums.
  • Rating: Five Stars
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