The Fusion Chamber Ensemble continues to work wonders with its distinctive format even because the spoils of notoriety stay elusive. Their Sunday efficiency on the Emory Performing Arts Studio noticed the ensemble ship its signature mix of jazz and classical music to an viewers of simply over a dozen.
It’s a acquainted drum beat identified all too effectively to untold legions of musicians and music lovers: the revolutionary and the sensible compelled to languish in obscurity.
An ongoing collaboration between the Gerald Freeman Jazz Ensemble and the Aida Chamber Ensemble, Fusion’s bigger objective of mixing the usually disparate worlds of jazz and classical is a noble and revolutionary one, although it appears that evidently their format limits the complete exploration of their idea.
A typical Fusion live performance begins with the respective ensembles taking turns performing works historically related to their respective genres earlier than ultimately coming collectively to carry out hybridized reimaginings of acquainted works.
It’s a daring and defiant strategy and one which shakes up the standard chamber format however now in my third publicity to Fusion I couldn’t assist however surprise if the opening back-and-forth between jazz and classical was solely serving to forestall the challenge’s total objective of stylistic integration.
The Aida Chamber Ensemble part opened with a stirring efficiency of the third motion from American 4 Seasons, Philip Glass’ second violin concerto. Whereas Glass by no means specified which season is represented in every of the actions it’s generally accepted that the third phase corresponds to autumn, the third season of the 12 months. It made for a solemn and brooding introduction to a program devoted fully to numerous reflections on the autumnal months but in addition served to re-establish the Aida as a classical ensemble with a fixation on the trendy and avant-garde.
Later items from the ensemble included the nice addition of Max Richter’s “November.” I’ve all the time regarded Ricther because the extra palatable model of Glass’ arpeggios-ad-infinitum model. He lacks the brazen, punkish perspective of defiance that’s obvious in a lot of Glass’ work and as an alternative focuses on creating a relaxing, contemplative ambiance. “November” sat properly among the many afternoon’s hypnotic alternatives. An identical ambiance emerged within the efficiency of Herman Beftink’s “Autumn,” a duet between flute and piano. Fusion flutist Aleksandra Tevdoska is all the time a pleasure to listen to along with her tone that leaps playfully to the upper register of her instrument with out ever changing into piercing or upsetting.
The Gerald Freeman Jazz Ensemble appeared reluctant to embrace the avant-garde at first and, as an alternative, opened with conventional jazz within the type of Henry Nemo’s “‘Tis Autumn” adopted up by Harry Warren’s “September within the Rain.” Each works showcased the intimidating technical acumen of Freeman on the piano, albeit on the threat of jarring the meditative temper established by the Fusion’s classical department. Nobody can accuse Freeman of being reserved in his solos and inside that dazzling fury is a transparent respect for the foundations laid down by Scott Joplin and Jellyroll Morton. However within the expanse of the afternoon’s aura it appeared notably out of step.
The jazz aspect of Fusion didn’t really start to shine till it merged with the classical for an enchanting efficiency of Earth Wind and Fireplace’s “September.” It’s in such daring combos that the Fusion Ensemble soars and this specific association felt just like the listening to Artwork Blakey’s Jazz Messengers underscore the pop classical stylings of the Vitamin String Quartet.
That sudden awakening of curiosity in what had been a heretofore disjointed afternoon made me conscious that the strongest and most urgent criticism to be levied on the Fusion Chamber Ensemble is the style wherein it refrains from embracing its fullest potential save for just a few choose numbers.
The potential was once more realized in performances of the “Autumn” phase of Antonio Vivaldi’s The 4 Seasons, Fusion founder Karin R. Banks’ personal “Valse Romantique” and “Autumn Sketch,” and on the finale, a reimagining of the jazz customary “Autumn Leaves.”
These performances could have identified the flaw within the Fusion Chamber Ensemble’s option to have Aida and Freeman’s jazz group commerce off for many of their live shows slightly than merge right into a single, solidified unit. Embracing their fusion could be the daring and charming selection might give them the clout they should obtain higher notoriety in Atlanta’s crowded music scene.
Jordan Owen started writing about music professionally on the age of 16 in Oxford, Mississippi. A 2006 graduate of the Berklee School of Music, he’s knowledgeable guitarist, bandleader and composer. He’s at present the lead guitarist for the jazz group Different Strangers, the facility metallic band Axis of Empires and the melodic loss of life/thrash metallic band Century Spawn.