The French Horn and the Bassoon are two instruments seldom associated with jazz and improvisation. Enter John Clark and Michael Rabinowitz who, along with their fellow musicians put together this playful and entertaining album. Clark, born in 1966, studied at the University of Rochester, Eastman School of Music and the New England Conservatory. He studied under George Russell and Ran Blake. Currently he is on faculty at the Manhattan School of Music.
Beginning playfully and appropriately with their arrangement of Neal Hefti’s theme from the movie The Odd Couple. From there the group traverses through various classical music pieces always with their unique jazz inflections.
This disc contains 8 tracks and is consistently pleasant, inventive and entertaining. Clark, whose discography lists 18 albums on Wikipedia, has worked as a session musician and has recorded with people like B.B. King, Leroy Jenkins, Linda Ronstadt, Ornette Coleman and many others.
Building on work by folks like Jacques Loussier, Clark’s group basically traverses classical pieces with a jazz tinge. All compositions, with the exception of the Odd Couple Theme are listed as being by John Clark but alert listeners (or those who read the lucid liner notes) will identify the original sources on which these compositions are based.
In addition to the two named principals they are supported by Freddie Bryant on guitar, Mark Egan on bass, Able Fogle on drums and Pete Levin on keyboards.
The last track is perhaps the most complex of the set and ties the album together with a fitting conclusion. All in all this album is a lot of fun for fans of both classical and jazz.