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Jackson: Symphony 1
     

Jackson: Symphony 1

by Joe Jackson
 
At some point, the crossover genre was bound to get to the heart of the question: What makes classical music classical? Joe Jackson's jazz- and pop-influenced Symphony No. 1 argues that's all in the structure. The idea is far from new: Ellington composed tone poems for his jazz band,

Overview

At some point, the crossover genre was bound to get to the heart of the question: What makes classical music classical? Joe Jackson's jazz- and pop-influenced Symphony No. 1 argues that's all in the structure. The idea is far from new: Ellington composed tone poems for his jazz band, Glenn Branca has written full symphonies for electric guitars, Mikel Rouse has structured entire operas from house music and hip-hop. Those who wince at the idea of a "pop" symphony on principle need to get out more. The combination of a major artist with a major label, though, raises the ante. Unlike Jackson's earlier HEAVEN AND HELL -- essentially a thematic pop album with a larger string section -- the Symphony No.1 actually fuses the composer's recognizably eclectic style to an entirely different format. The ten-member band combines a jazzy freedom of the moment with a clear, classical sense of direction. For fans who've wondered where Jackson's been hiding recently, this Symphony shows he's still very much around. His ideas just don't fit the four-minute format anymore.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - William Ruhlmann
No one who has been following Joe Jackson's more recent career will be surprised that he has produced Symphony No. 1, nor will they be surprised at its contents, especially if they have heard his previous instrumental works. In his liner notes, Jackson immediately defends himself against the charge that this cannot be a symphony since it is not being played by a symphony orchestra, but rather by a ten-piece ensemble featuring jazz trumpeter Terence Blanchard and rock guitarist Steve Vai. Certainly, the symphony form has been altered structurally in the 20th century, but one of the defining characteristics has remained that it is a work for a large group, and in that sense, Jackson's composition does not qualify, even though he multiplies the number of sounds through the use of electronic keyboards and computers. By "symphonic in structure," he seems to mean that it is a work in four parts in which various musical ideas are explored. Fair enough, and, in fact, in this sense Symphony No. 1 is somewhat traditional, with its second, fast movement and its third, slow movement, which develop several themes, culminating in a last movement that draws them together. Jackson is unusual largely in the kinds of sounds he employs, sounds more familiar in rock and jazz. But leaving aside the question of whether or not Symphony No. 1 is a real symphony, it does function, as Jackson says he intends it to, as program music, tracing a life from childhood to old age. One may or may not think of that narrative while listening, but one feels it, from the way the music slowly emerges in the first movement to the simplicity and confidence of the final one. In this sense, Jackson is both an optimist and a still-young composer; an older one might not have so hopeful a view of old age.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/19/1999
Label:
Sony
UPC:
0074646443521
catalogNumber:
64435

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Joe Jackson   Primary Artist,Piano,Keyboards,Sampling
Steve Vai   Guitar,Electric Guitar
Robin Eubanks   Trombone
Wessell Anderson   Alto Saxophone
Terence Blanchard   Trumpet
Gary Burke   Drums
Sue Hadjopoulas   Percussion
Mat Fieldes   Electric Bass,Acoustic Bass,Accompaniment
Patti Monson   Flute
Mary L. Rowell   Viola,Electric Violin
Sue Hadjopoulos   Percussion

Technical Credits

Joe Jackson   Arranger,Producer,Liner Notes
Dan Gellert   Engineer
Josee Begaud   translation
Sheldon Steiger   Engineer
Lisa Sharken   Guitar Techician
Reinhard Luthje   translation

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