Album number six is now here and its roots are in the music Andy Biskin must have heard working alongside the famed ethnomusicologist. "16 Tons: Songs from the Alan Lomax Collection" (AnDorfin Music) has songs one will easily recognize, others that are rearranged although the melodies are intact, and one Biskin original steeped in the traditions he has studied. Even more interesting is the ensemble gathered to play this repertoire. Three trumpets - played by John Carlson, Dave Smith, and Kenny Warren - plus Biskin's clarinet and bass clarinet and drummer Rob Garcia come together for a spirited journey through these songs. Reminiscent of his 2006 (recorded in 2000) release "Early American: The Songs of Stephen Foster", Biskin arranges this music in such a way that everything sounds fresh and often surprising on one's first listen,
|Photo: Rebecca Greenfield|
For more information, go to www.andybiskin.com.
Here's the sweet "House Carpenter":
Bernstein composed the music for six Broadway musicals, from 1944's boisterous "On The Town", 1956's comic satire "Candide", and his one giant mistake, 1976's "1600 Pennsylvania Avenue" (with lyrics by Alan J. Lerner). His most famous work is, arguably, 1957's "West Side Story" (lyrics by Stephen Sondheim), an adaptation of William Shakespeare's "Romeo & Juliet" set in New York City in the wave of Puerto Rican immigration. The story aside, the music is extremely adventurous with rhythms coming at the listener/audience from all sides.
Jazz musicians have taken up the challenge of playing this music with artists such as pianists Bill Charlap, Tommy Flanagan, and Oscar Peterson recording all or some of the material from the production. Stan Kenton's Orchestra released a memorable version on the early 1960s as did saxophonist Bill Barron (1963). To celebrate Maestro Bernstein's 100th Birthday, drummer Bobby Sanabria decided to record the score with his Multiverse Big Band. The results, recorded in December of 2017 at Dizzy's Club Coca Cola for Jazz at Lincoln Center, can be heard on the dynamic new "West Side Story: Reimagined" (Jazzheads Records).
I have to admit it took me a while to really see the brilliance of "West Side Story: Reimagined" as I missed the sassy lyrics of "America" and "Gee, Officer Krupke" as well as the lovely sentiments of "Somewhere" and "One Hand, One Heart." Yet, play this music good and loud, let the trumpets and trombones bore a hole in your soul, the reeds rise above the fray, and the percussion guide your feet, you'll soon be seduced by these delightful performances. You know that Leonard Bernstein, such a champion of all kinds of music, a man with empathy for all people, would be charmed and thrilled! Bravo Señor Bobby Sanabria!
To find out more, go to www.bobbysanabria.com.
Here's "America" in all its glory:
Bobby Sanabria Multiverse Big Band –
Trumpets: Kevin Bryan (lead, opening whistle), Shareef Clayton, Max Darché, Andrew Neesley.
Saxophones: David Dejesus: lead alto and soprano, flute; Andrew Gould: alto and flute; Peter Brainin: tenor and flute; Yaacov Mayman: tenor, flute and clarinet; Danny Rivera: baritone.
Trombones: David Miller (lead), Tim Sessions, Armando Vergara, Chris Washburne (bass trombone);
Flute and Piccolo: Gabrielle Garo;
Electric Violin: Ben Sutin;
Rhythm Section: Bobby Sanabria: musical director, drumset, cowbells, police whistle, samba whistle and lead vocals;
Darwin Noguera: piano;
Leo Traversa: electric bass;
Oreste Abrantes: congas, itotele batá drum and second voice (Disc Two. "Maria");
Matthew González: bongó/cencerro, primo bomba drum, Iyá batá, requinto pandereta, ganza and Dominican güira;
Takeo Heisho: claves, Cuban güiro macho, cencerro, Puerto Rican guicharo, okonkolo batá drum, maracas (Cuban and Venezuelan), shekere, tamborine, cuica, pandeiro, triangle, gong and police siren.
Background vocals: all the members of the Multiverse Big Band