If you're one of those people who complains that all jazz sounds pretty much alike these days, have I got a CD for you. Take a standard jazz quartet -- piano, sax, bass and drums -- and couple it with a chamber group -- woodwinds, violin, viola and cello -- and you have Resonance, the Northern California band that mixes classical music and jazz.
For what reason, I can't say.
Their music is adventurous, to say the least, and so far outside the ordinary that if you can't go there with them, you'll find yourself scratching your head and wondering just what the hell is going on. When the blend of classical and jazz works, as on Duke Ellington's "In a Sentimental Mood," it's fabulous. In that one, the classical influences recede, serving as the foundation, while the piano quartet drives the train. The strings step forward into a melody part, the violin creating a little Stephan Grapelli gypsy touch, but the instruments meld, rather than clash and the overall effect is fine.
When it doesn't work, as in "Eleanor Rigby," it sounds like two separate bands competing for attention.
I respect what Resonance is trying to do here and wish them luck, but overall, the music sounded too studied, formal and stuffy for me. To my ears, Resonace hasn't yet achieved the perfect blend they're looking for.
music review by
Michael Scott Cain
5 October 2013
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