Monday, December 13, 2010

Steve Richman and Lew Soloff: Sketches of Spain

Sheffield Labs
By Ric Bang
Buy CD: Sketches of Spain

Fifty years have passed since Gil Evans and Miles Davis collaborated in the creation of Sketches Of Spain, a true landmark recording in the field of concert jazz. It was then -- and still is -- considered one of the most beautiful and moving pieces of music ever released in that genre.

Sketches, Porgy and Bess and Miles Ahead were three of the key elements in the “Birth of the Cool” and -- unless you listen to the original recordings -- they aren’t heard often. Alter all, how can you improve on perfection?

This anniversary release is designed to pay homage to Evans and Davis and their “dream band.”

Evans’ masterful arrangement was used as the focal point in this release. The Harmonie Ensemble New York takes the orchestral part, with Lew Soloff in Miles Davis’ chair and Steve Richman conducting. Soloff -- who was a member of Evans’ band -- does Davis (and himself) proud. The Harmonie Ensemble New York is excellent: much like the original Evans group, although without the intense swinging “feel” that unit achieved. Even so, the opening melodic line still brings goose bumps to the listener.

Make sure you won’t be interrupted by conversation -- or any other noise makers -- when putting this on your sound machine. It may not be Miles and Gil Evans, but it’s still too good to miss a note.

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