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<<  -- 3 --  Malcolm Tattersall    COOL FUSION


Heritage: a Tribute to Great Clarinetists adds violin and bass to the clarinet and piano. The bass is used exactly as it would be in jazz and the violin is clearly subordinate to the clarinet, often merely thickening the melody line. That is fair enough, though, in a work celebrating Buddy DeFranco, Artie Shaw, Buster Bailey, Barney Bigard and Benny Goodman. Baker transcribes and incorporates some of their improvised solos, borrows themes and chord-changes from jazz standards, and encourages Gene DiNovi to improvise the piano solos. The result sounds like jazz but has the long-range structure of classical music [listen -- track 2, 2:46-4:31].

Aspects of Andy is the longest of the four works at just over twenty minutes. It was commissioned by Bay Chamber Concerts in memory of a young man well known to both Baker and Campbell, so the mood is subdued. The instrument list is 'clarinet, piano, bass and string quartet,' which reflects the way they are used: soloist, rhythm section, and backing group. Clarinet, piano and bass all have improvised episodes during the work but the quartet is not expected to follow suit. Baker's slow movements are all gorgeous and the opening of this one is particularly lovely [listen -- track 15, 0:00-1:04]. If there ever was a wall between 'classical' and 'jazz', David Baker sits on top of its remains, smiling: Aspects of Andy integrates the two genres just about perfectly.

It has been a pleasure to meet a composer who is so absolutely in control of his craft. I only hope for his sake that there are enough listeners who will accept the music without insisting on categorising it. Trying to fit it into one box or the other would be both futile and pointless, but listening to it is a pleasure.

Copyright © 24 August 2005 Malcolm Tattersall, Townsville, Australia


David Baker at Bay Chamber Concerts

CACD77010 DDD Stereo 66'27" 2002 Cala Records Ltd

James Campbell, clarinet; Paul Biss, violin; Bruce Bransby, bass; Sarah Caswell, violin; Corey Cerovsek, violin; Gene DiNovi, piano; Luke Gillespie, piano; Craig Hertick, percussion; Leonard Hokanson, piano; Kirsten Johnson, viola; Marc Johnson, cello; John Rommell, trumpet; Dee Stewart, trombone; Kim Walker, bassoon; Geoffrey Simon, conductor

David Baker (born 1931): Heritage: A Tribute To Great Clarinetists (1996), for clarinet, violin, piano and bass (Buddy and Beyond; Artie; BBBB; BG); Homage à L'Histoire (1994), for clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, trombone, violin, bass and percussion (Little Parade March; Waltz; Lindy Hop; Samba; Little Song; Grande March); Sonata for Clarinet and Piano (1989) (Blues; Loneliness; Dance); Aspects of Andy (1998) (3 movements), for clarinet, piano, bass and string quartet





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