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The Sounding Board by R J Lannan
RJ Lannan is the reviewer for The Sounding Board.
Other reviews from The Sounding Board by R J Lannan:
  Ama by Michael Brant DeMaria, reviewed by RJ Lannan on 12/15/2017
  Jazz Meets the Classics by Alan Storeygard, reviewed by RJ Lannan on 12/11/2017
  Reaching 12 by Faith Angelina, reviewed by RJ Lannan on 12/6/2017
<<-later reviews | earlier reviews->>   <<- all reviews ->>
Jazz Meets the Classics
By Alan Storeygard
Label: Storeygard Music
Released 4/21/2017
Jazz Meets the Classics tracks
1. Sergei Rachmaninoff - Prelude in C-Sharp Minor
2. Bedrich Smetena, Hector Berlioz- The Moldau Symphony-Arranged as a Tone Poem
3. Ludwig Van Beethoven - Beethoven's Ninth Symphony
4. Frederic Chopin - Ballade 1 in G-Minor, Nocturne 2 in E-Flat, and Waltz 6 in D-Flat
5. Francis Scott Key, Giacomo Puccini - The Star Spangled Banner
6. Sergei Rachmaninoff - Second Piano Concerto
7. Jacques Offenbach, Hector Berlioz - Alessio's Song
8. Johann Sebastian Bach - Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring
9. Peter Llyich Tchaikovsky - First Piano Concerto
Gershwin would be proud
Alan Storeygard’s persnickety attention to detail is fitting as he is not only a world-class piano jazz musician, but a physician as well. The heartbeat you hear in the music is his own. The good doctor, along with the Alan Storeygard Trio, Brian Wolverton (bass), Dave Rogers (drums and engineering), and Danny Fletcher (guitar), and Eric Chesher as recording engineer meld into a sublime fusion of contemporary jazz elements mixed with classical perpetuity. The nine tracks’ main subjects on Jazz Meets the Classics might be familiar to the classical music enthusiast, but after this work, more jazz and fringe listeners have something to talk about. I’m from the fringe.

The music that launched a thousand horror films, Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in C Minor, opens the album. The most venerable of Rachmaninoff’s works gets a jazz infused and orchestral working over that somehow multiplies its majesty. The piece has been used in countless movies, but Storeygard’s use of the motif is strong and exceptionally dramatic.

The Moldau Symphony features some great fretwork by Danny Fletcher and he compliments Storeygard’s animated piano. The work by Smetlana/Berlioz in the hands of the trio is flowing, bright and sophisticated with its rippling arpeggios. Just as in the original work where two mountain streams come together, every things seems to flow concurrently as the jazz interpretation takes hold.

The ternion, Chopin's Ballade 1 in G Minor, Nocturne 2 in E Flat, and Waltz 6 in D Flat, one of the two long tracks on the album reminded me that Chopin wrote mostly for the solo piano. Storeygard’s adaptation of several of the Polish Romanticist’s works is a bit muted, but the melodies frame a stylistic trilogy of accomplished Amantinian ballades.

From the Tales of Hoffman comes the main theme Alessio’s Song. The music is deft and textured as if the protagonist is on an arduous journey. I can almost imagine Storeygard playing this on an upright piano. The melodramatic quality sounds like something from a silent film soundtrack. This has nothing to do with the overall audio tone of the piece, but more the implied atmosphere.

Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 is the longest and most ambitious piece on the recording at 16:38, and also, my favorite. One could almost say that this is from Rachmaninoff’s “blue period”, as he wrote it following a deep depression. Rachmaninoff dedicated it to his savior-physician Nikolai Dahl. Storeygard’s variation seems to release the poignancy in this work in the sense that it transforms into a tribute with passionate undertones.

When I first heard Alan’s rendition of Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring I thought that somehow perhaps Vince Guaraldi has slipped onto the album. The track had that jazzy kinetic energy sound that tends to suggest color and motion all at the same time. If you remember Cast Your Fate to the Wind and not the music from Peanuts animated films, you’ll understand my impression.

The closing track is Tchaikovsky’s passion filled Piano Concerto No.1. Tchaikovsky's life was filled with controversy, but his music remains timeless. I have always equated this overall theme with the breaking of dawn, that moment when light is transmuted into gold, copper and mauve. Originally, the concerto was not well received, but through the ages, it has become a beloved anthem. Storeygard does indeed infuse this breathtaking retrospective with a masterful interpretation of highly listenable technicality.

Alan Storeygard was influenced by church music. With this I can identify. I listened while my old choirmaster, Mr. Letendré played classical pieces on a three story pipe organ that filled the space with reverent sound. It makes an impression on your soul. No surprise that Alan’s first recoding was called Church Jazz. Alan has released four previous albums, some with the talents of the Alan Storeygard Trio. His classically tinged jazz versions are phrased in a language that anyone could love, no interpreter needed.
Rating: Very Good +   Very Good +
- reviewed by RJ Lannan on 12/11/2017
 
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