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.