Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Review: Bamboo Philharmonic

When I started the blog I didn't anticipate writing music reviews, but since I'm entrenched in the music academy it's not such a stretch (right?).

[caption id="attachment_80" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="An artifact of sonic deliciousness"][/caption]


A good friend from grad school, composer Mark Piszczek, shared with me a preview of his jazz album, Bamboo Philharmonic this past Summer and I was smitten. It wasn't until its commercial release in February that I was able to acquire a copy of the album. My chomping at the bit waiting for this release was vindicated as the opening track sprang from my CD player.

Piszczek's flare for rich melodic invention permeates the album starting with the sunny, though never saccharin, opening track, "Was it something I said?" His harmonic palette is a compelling mix of idioms from his training in art music composition, and his extensive CV as a gigging jazz man.

The caveat: I've never written a review of a jazz album before, but I was compelled to speak up. One of the first things I listen for is the calibre of ensemble playing. Piszczek and his merry band of minstrels make short work of the refreshing metric and rhythmic playfulness, and their sound is tight without the soulless academic polish in recordings and performances of younger ensembles.

My only issue, if I must point one out, is that the drummer rides the cymbal pretty hard. After a few tracks it gets to be a bit much and detracts ever so slightly from the rest of the ensemble. I'm sure that this was just an artifact of post-production. 

Mark admits that the tracks are highly personal in influence, and one can only hope that there will be sufficient fodder for future albums.

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