The 6-piece ensemble who go by the moniker, Bipolar, take classical music to new heights and traditional jazz idioms into lively interpretations. The group’s latest release, Euphrates, Me Jane, taps into a wide breadth of material from reinventing classical pieces such as Bach’s "Prelude," Beethoven’s "Op. 130," Debussy’s "Beau Soir," and Brahms’ "Brahms 3rd," to embellishing John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s song "And I Love Her" with a breezy post-bop décor, and composing original tunes with stems of traditional jazz motifs reflective of Cole Porter, Toots Thielemans and Joe Henderson. Engineered and mixed by M.P. Kuo, the album blossoms with the elegance of ballroom jazz, and a freedom of movement and expressive ebullient versing in the vane of contemporary-bop.
The group infuses Debussy’s "Passepied" with exuberant horns and raveling piano keys clasped to a jolly gait, whereas, "I’m A Fool To Want You," written by the group’s trumpeter/flugelhornist Jed Feuer, has a relaxing ambience with gently wandering horns and slowing rising chord progressions. The group’s rendition of the popular hit song "Just The Two Of Us" has the vibrant feathers of a preening peacock with trumpet trills and a springy saunter in the nimble movements of the piano keys. The shadowy cast that looms over "Brahms 3rd" puts one in a pensive mood with causally strolling rhythmic beats and a drum solo that bursts out of the seams. Life is filled with joy in Bipolar’s music even when all seems gloomy and destined to fall into despair.
The tender slopes etched by Stephanie Long’s flute in "And I Love Her" soar and coast gracefully as the saxophone follows willingly in her path. The group rebounds into a vibrant swing-jazz flare in the title track with wavy horns and scrambling piano keys igniting into a rambunctious tussle. The group’s harmonic forms tug and push in the same direction so there is no friction, just completely unified lines moving with the grain of the melodic patterns. The only contrasts exist in the textures of the instruments, which compliment each other’s tones as the glittering twitters of the horns scrape against the twinkling piano keys, and the bass pumps and drum strikes roll leisurely beneath them.
Bipolar are a jazz ensemble who understand their craft inside and out. They shape their harmonic forms into an array of well-honed sonic sculptures that dazzle audiences with a ballroom jazz elegance reflective of Cole Porter, and a freedom of movement that would entice the young and old alike to join in the fun. Their music is Ritz-Carlton class jazz with Lincoln Center outdoor concert fun.