WHICH WAY MUSIC: A unique collaboration between an internationally acclaimed jazz pianist and one of the leading classical violinists of her generation.
, the new collaboration between (mostly) classical violinist Zoë Black and jazz pianist Joe Chindamo begins with a piece that is seductive – yet not obviously in either of the genres favoured by the performers.
And yet it is. Chopin’s ‘Prelude in E minor’, as re-imagined by Chindamo, would not be out of place at a Latin dance studio – thus putting yet another genre into the musical mix. The quality of performance, however, reveals their musicianship, with Black’s violin at ease with every nuance Chindamo demands of her.
Chindamo sets himself a matching technical challenge in his version of ‘Kinderszenen’ (or at least, one of the ‘scenes’ from Schumann’s suite). The melody is unchanged, but violin and piano take turns in providing a re-imagined accompaniment. The result is a fresh enjoyment of a familiar tune.
Far more daring is the reinvention of Handel’s ‘Lascio Ch’io Piange’, a favourite showpiece of baroque sopranos and countertenors alike. Wisely, the violin retains the purity and melody of the original, while the piano is allowed to explore a differently scored accompaniment before they bring the piece together to end in the style of the original.
The next piece (the first of only a few jazz originals) is ‘The Peacocks’ by 20th century composer Jimmy Rowles. It lends itself to improvisation and so this is yet another version – and yet is lifted to an extraordinary level thanks mainly to the contrasts within it.
Zoë Black contributed the violin introduction to ‘The Peacocks’ and an intro improvisation to the next piece, Couperin’s ‘Les Baricades Misterieuses’. This soon settles to a fairly traditional rendition of the work with violin and piano sweetly flowing in harmony.
The first of two Chindamo compositions, ‘Zoë’, midway through the album, shows its contemporary origin, while also (perhaps unintentionally) recalling the great Stephane Grappelli. In this way it compliments the Zoë who inspired it, as her violin moves easily through its pace.
Interestingly, Chindamo’s second original, ‘Tarantism’ has even more of a gypsy sound, and demands an equal virtuosity from piano and violin. Copeland’s ‘Nocturne’ lends itself well to the Black/Chindamo partnership, marrying a reflective jazz sound with a blues accent lent by the violin.
The big surprise is the virtually unrecognizable Dolly Parton hit ‘Jolene’ which Chindamo transforms with ornamentation for piano while the violin then plays to Black’s strengths with lyrical renditions of the melody.
Zoë Black comments of the recording: “For the first time, I felt at liberty to create a sound that comes purely from within, my very essence in every musical breath.”
And Chindamo says: “I have removed each work from its time capsule, thus allowing its essence to shine through a number of musical transformations”.
Shine it does, so that the difference in genres becomes irrelevant. What is left is simply a CD that you could enjoy time and time again.
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Joe Chindamo and Zoë Black – Reimaginings
Out now through Which Way Music
What the stars mean?
- Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
- Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
- Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
- Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
- Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
- Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
- Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
- One star: Awful, to be avoided
- Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level