Wolfgang's Big Night Out

Wolfgang's Big Night Out

by The Brian Setzer OrchestraThe Brian Setzer Orchestra


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If Brian Setzer is going to play the classics, then why wouldn't he approach them as he does every other style of music he's tackled, with wit and attitude? Welcome to a thoroughly delightful reconsideration of some classical benchmarks, done with raucous abandon but no lack of joie de vivre by Setzer and his all-stops-out Orchestra. In Setzer's hands, "Flight of the Bumblebee" is recast as "Honey Man" and becomes an occasion for the six-string maestro to demonstrate some truly jaw-dropping speed-picking as a flirty female chorus chants, "Busy, busy / busy is he-Go! Honey, honey / Sugar, sugar man-Go!" Composer Rimsky-Korsakov surely would approve. Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture" gets a Latin makeover, opening with clacking castanets and clattering conga riffs before the orchestra swings it to the ballroom floor, paving the way for Setzer's rich hollow-body soloing, a mixture of chordal riffing and single-string punctuations. Despite its wise-guy title, "Some River in Europe," Setzer's take on Strauss's "Blue Danube" is a marvelously realized concept featuring a lush, romantic orchestral introduction, thoughtful single-string soloing from Setzer when the waltz gets into full swing, and a strutting middle section with Setzer and the orchestra double-timing it back into a swaying waltz coda. Rossini, Wagner, Beethoven ("Take the Fifth"), Grieg, Mozart, Offenbach, and Mendelssohn all find their works swinging mightily in these capable hands. In his howling, breakneck version of "Sabre Dance," Setzer pays double homage, to Armenian composer Armen Katchakurian and to Dave Edmonds, who memorably interpreted the same number with Love Sculpture back in the '70s; and on Beethoven's "Für Elise," we hear a rare Setzer acoustic guitar solo in a scintillating Hot Club of Paris rendition also featuring fiddle and clarinet. Great fun all around, this one.

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