The juxtaposition of Scriabin and jazz music has history. A Bill Evans’ “third stream” project, the album Bill Evans Trio with Symphony Orchestra from 1965, one of the lush Claus Ogermann orchestrations is of a Scriabin prelude. Bill Evans was also described by Glenn Gould: “He’s the Scriabin of jazz.”
This project by the David Gordon Trio with Paul Cavaciuti on drums and bassist Jonty Fisher is different, and goes further. One departure – and probably a first – is that alongside Scriabin’s reflectiveness and perfumed chords, there is also quite a bit of humour on display. The title track, Alexander Scriabin’s Ragtime Band puts new words to the classic 1911 song by Irving Berlin and even includes a vocalisation of Scriabin’s “Mystic Chord.” Most of the album consists of re-castings of Scriabin works (for some detailed analysis of how Scriabin has been re-imagined, SEE ALISON BENTLEY’S REVIEW) but Gordon has been digging around in the period of the latter years of Scriabin’s life, and produced a charming version of Debussy’s Cakewalk from Children’s Corner.
The trio will be doing three concerts in the next week. Alison Bentley, reviewing a gig with this programme last year, wrote: “It was an evening of good feeling, and tremendous musical skill at the service of powerful emotions; jazz, Latin, ragtime and classical.”
Of the three events about to happen, the first, in Uppingham in Rutland, looks particularly spectacular. According to the blurb: “The project features 150 instrumentalists and dancers, performing alongside members of the Central School of Ballet and David Gordon’s celebrated Alexander Scriabin Rag Time Band. Choreographed by leading figures in the dance world including Christopher Marney (Principal Dancer with Matthew Bourne’s company New Adventures), the ballet will be accompanied by film imagery.”
Scriabin took theories of synaesthesia seriously (Definition : The production of a sense impression relating to one sense or part of the body by stimulation of another sense or part of the body) further than just about any artist in any form in history, so the Uppingham gig looks like a particularly fitting 100-years-on tribute.