Gene Pritsker strikes again. In this new work just released on CD he manages to pay homage to Igor Stravinsky in this eclectic parody of The Rite of Spring. And one can’t possibly miss this as being a reference to Gil Evans orchestrations of Rodrigo in the classic Miles Davis album Sketches of Spain.
This is a parody in the classical sense that it uses melodies from the original to create a different musical context. This is neither an imitation of Stravinsky nor of the Davis/Evans disc. It is more like an updating of the Evans/Davis concept with an eclectic mix of musical styles which incorporates jazz and classical elements and is perhaps freer harmonically than the older disc and more angular in its treatment of themes.
Franz Hackl’s prominent trumpet takes on the initial bassoon riff which opens the actual ballet and along with Pritsker’s guitar these two instruments seem to provide a sort of backbone for the later inclusion of Chanda Rule (what a voice!) and the four other musicians. Everyone gets a chance to shine much like traditional jazz and the listener will likely always be able to identify the section referenced from the original score. This is not a deconstruction…well, not entirely anyway.
What is very clear is that these musicians are having a lot of fun (and so is the audience from the few moments where you can hear them). There are 8 discrete tracks all recorded live (which tells you much about the musicians’ confidence in their virtuosity). This writer can’t get over the impression that much of the inspiration here comes from 1970s musical styles. Now that is not generally thought of as the high point of musical inspiration in the pop world but here it functions as nostalgic fun. There is fusion reminiscent of some incarnations of Gong, guitar solos that would be the envy of any hair band guitarist, vocals, scat singing and rap that put this writer in the mind of Earth, Wind, and Fire at various times and perhaps even a touch of Chick Corea as he tried to hang a tapestry of jazz on Alice in Wonderland.
Each of the sections makes reference more or less directly to various sections of the original ballet score and the entire ballet is pretty much represented (or torn apart) depending on your point of view. This is serious high energy virtuosic jazz by a truly driven and dedicated group consisting of: Gene Pritsker (guitar, rap, DJ), Chanda Rule (voice), Max Pollak (tap dancer, percussion, rap), Franz Hackl (trumpet), Greg Baker (guitar), Philipp Moll (bass), Gernot Bernroider (drums).
This is a very appealing album though all Stravinsky fans might not like it and maybe all jazz fans might not like it. But those same statements could be made about the Miles Davis/Gil Evans recording reference earlier.
This live recording from the Outreach Music Festival 2014 in Austria was recorded by Sigi Konzett and Andreas Wein with mixing by Wein. This release is on Composers Concordance Records. It was set for release on December 8th. Check it out. It will rock your world.