(EPDM001. CD Review by Jon Turney)
I was lucky to hear the first performance of Eddie Parker’s Debussy project in Cheltenham last year, noting then that it deserved a recording. And here it is, the stellar ensemble’s later outing at the London Jazz Festival now on CD.
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It’s a real pleasure to hear these players again, responding to the challenge of Parker’s intensely thoughtful arrangements and rearrangements, bringing out the composer’s fascination with new sonorities and textures while leaving plenty of room for improvisation.
The jazz-meets-classical spirit is epitomised by the use of both Brigitte Beraha and James Gilchrist’s voices. Most may prefer one or the other, I fancy, but they work beautifully together. And so do all the players Parker assembled. The flute quartet at the heart of the ensemble glow and shimmer, and the remaining horn player, James Allsopp on clarinets, thickens the textures and contributes some fine solos.
As in concert, the centrepiece is the 16-minute version of La Boîte à joujoux – now titled X-boite à Jou Jou – an incident-packed, instrumental suite that really brings out the best in the ensemble. It’s a considerable feat of orchestration that repeat listening allows to be appreciated fully. Your time is richly repaid just as the whole venture repays Parker’s long and deep study of Debussy and his career-long investigation of writing for a large groups.
It sounds like a labour of love for all concerned, and that comes across on the recording as vividly as on stage. If you are at all curious how a classy 21st century ensemble can find new nourishment from this most beguiling of 20th-century composers, do give this a listen.
Jon Turney writes about jazz, and other things, from Bristol. jonturney.co.uk. Twitter: @jonWturney
LINKS: The Debussy Mirrored album launch is at Watermill Jazz on 10 September
Categories: CD review