Grunt, Chotjewitz: The Magic of a Flute
In 1972, pianist/composer/bandleader George Gruntz arranged for a variety of poets in the United States to write sections for an updated version of "The Magic Flute," transformed to modern times. The poets were not told that their segments were based on "The Magic Flute" and Gruntz in turn wrote music for the "jazz opera" that does not refer at all to Mozart's work. For a variety of reasons, it took 30 years before the production was finally staged, and that debut was recorded and released as this double CD. Eight singers were employed to play the roles, while the NDR Big Band provided the music. There is plenty of improvising by the singers and musicians within the context of the script. Without reading the synopsis, it would be very difficult to know what the plot of the show is, and the results are a bit esoteric and sometimes confusing, although much of the music is simpler (including a blues and a calypso). There are some excellent moments, particularly from Lauren Newton, Mark Murphy, and Ian Shaw, and the unidentified soloists are talented, but this jazz opera is for selective tastes.