Freefall

Freefall

by Kenny Barron
     
 

This adventurous outing pairs two classically trained jazz musicians, Kenny Barron on piano and Regina Carter on violin, with a wide variety of material, including standards, a contemporary pop song by Sting, and some originals. Classical composers have been writing for the combination of violin and piano for some time, but it's still a novel sound in the jazz world,… See more details below

Overview

This adventurous outing pairs two classically trained jazz musicians, Kenny Barron on piano and Regina Carter on violin, with a wide variety of material, including standards, a contemporary pop song by Sting, and some originals. Classical composers have been writing for the combination of violin and piano for some time, but it's still a novel sound in the jazz world, and Carter and Barron seem determined to explore every nuance of the musical partnership. The disc opens on a high note with “Softly as a Morning Sunrise,” on which Carter’s Gypsy-inflected violin soars above Barron’s Cuban mambo to create an upbeat cultural mélange. In the midst of all this interplay, Barron somehow takes a turn into the blues for his solo -- the result is infectious and playful. “Fragile,” the Sting song we’ve all heard on the radio too many times, is reinvented here as a lovely ballad for Carter’s singing violin. A highpoint of the album is the duo’s treatment of the Monk standard “Mysterioso,” which adapts so well to this instrumentation that one wonders if an all-Monk album shouldn’t be in the works for these two. The seesawing melody at the opening –- a trademark piece of Monk-ishness that rides up and down the octaves with lunatic grace –- sits perfectly on alternating pizzicato violin and staccato piano. Carter, who seems to be able to do just about anything with four strings and a bow, shows off everything she’s got here –- string slides, trills, double-stops –- and captures a keen sense of the bluesy fun at the heart of Monk’s composition. The album takes a turn into free jazz in the title cut, borrowing heavily from the contemporary classical idiom. If there is a point of confluence between totally unconstrained jazz improvisation and the highbrow notated atonalism of the last few decades, then this is it, complete with tone clusters, shivery chromatic phrases, and strident rhythms straight out of Shostakovich. “Shades of Gray,” a Carter original, offers contrast in the form of a soothing ballad, taken with a lush, singing vibrato on the violin. This is a highly original disc, covering a lot of musical ground in just over an hour. We can only hope this pair will continue the explorations they’ve begun so fruitfully here.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Richard S. Ginell
Violin/piano duet sessions are routine in the classical music world -- after all, Beethoven wrote ten sonatas for this combination -- but you rarely encounter them in jazz, due in great part to the shortage of jazz violinists. The Kenny Barron/Regina Carter sessions came about sometime after a gig at Sweet Basil's in New York -- and since the two happen to record for the same label, one imagines the only obstacle was the commercial potential of this teaming. But not to worry, for this session has plenty of life and wit; indeed, the sounds of the violin and piano go together as naturally in jazz as in the classical field (must be the resonating strings and wood factors that these instruments share). Carter clearly provides a lot of the spark with her ability to swing, often juxtaposed with classical poise straight from the conservatory, prodding the congenitally professional Barron into occasionally taking some chances. Among the high points are "Softly As in a Morning Sunrise," which gets rolling on an Afro-Cuban vamp from Barron, a delightful take on Johnny Hodges' happy-go-lucky "Squatty Roo," and Barron's own Monk-ish "What If," which takes a quirky, running, walking ostinato in the left hand as its launching point. The title track, credited to both, is undoubtedly an unplanned, spontaneous leap into the avant-garde, with detours into impressionism and an unfettered playful spirit.

Product Details

Release Date:
05/15/2001
Label:
Umvd Labels
UPC:
0731454970624
catalogNumber:
549706

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