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The Gift of Life--The Urban Classical Music Project, Vol. 1.

The Gift of Life--The Urban Classical Music Project, Vol. 1. Jeff Scott, composer, horn. Imani Winds (Valerie Coleman, flute; Toyin Spellman-Diaz, oboe and voice; Marian Adam, clarinet; Jeff Scott, horn; Monica Ellis, bassoon); Jedd Moss, Alex Brown, piano; Sato Moughalian, piccolo; The New Hudson Saxophone Quartet (Paul Cohen, soprano; Ray Kelly, alto; David Demsey, tenor; Tim Reuderman, baritone); Ana Garcia Caraballos, soprano saxophone; Javier Diaz, Fernando Saci, percussion. No Label.

Jeff Scott: Startin' Sumthin'; Elegy for Innocence; Of Good and Evil; The Gift of Life; A Passista Mais Linda; In Judgment of Mankind.

Jeff Scott's horn playing talents are widely known as a founding member of the Grammy-award nominated Imani Winds and as a busy free-lancer in the New York City area. Many may not realize what a talented composer he is. The Gift of Life, a ground-breaking CD of music by Jeff Scott is simply incredible. Drawing heavily on jazz and Latin American musical influences, Scott's compositions are breathtaking in their beauty and originality.

Imani Winds' acrobatic performance of Startin' Sumthin' is an homage to 1930's jazz. Filled with great rhythm and energy, the Imani Winds deliver a dazzling movement of syncopated surprises and gleeful chromatic riffs. A bassoon and piano piece, Elegy for Innocence, was written for and performed by Monica Ellis. A piece of deep introspection and yearning, Ellis's gorgeous bassoon voice soars plaintively in this work.

Toyin Spellman-Diaz commissioned the three-movement work Of Good and Evil, and it showcases both her tremendous skills as an oboist and her beautiful voice. The first movement is described as a "dance with the devil." The devil motif is performed by the piano, and the oboe deftly engages, dances with, and triumphantly emerges from this dance unscathed. The text of the second movement is from Robert Frost's apocalyptic poem, Fire and Ice. Spellman-Diaz's voice is rich and electrifying, at times singing hugely expressive intervals and then whispering the fateful poetry lines with trenchant precision. The final movement is filled with sensuous, cascading lines in both the oboe and piano, celebrating the divinity of life in sound.

The Gift of Life is a three-movement work for piccolo and saxophone quartet written to honor the life of Ingrid Werth, a young musician whose life ended tragically early. The liner notes describe her joy in running in circles in her back yard, pretending to be an airplane. The piccolo and saxes joyously evoke the exuberance of her imagination.

A Passista Mais Linda (The Most Beautiful Dancer) is a celebration of Brazilian Carnival for soprano sax and Brazilian percussion. The cuica, a Brazilian drum with a stick fixed in the center of the drum head, creates fun, squeaky sounds that converse hilariously with the saxophone.

In Judgment of Mankind (oboe version) is the second movement of Of Good and Evil. Scored also for oboe in lieu of voice, it is a bonus to be able to hear this movement in both its forms.

This first volume of The Urban Classical Music Project should solidify Jeff Scott's reputation as a first-rate composer. If you want to hear great contemporary music that speaks from the heart and performed by world-class musicians, this recording is for you. Lydia Van Dreel (LVD)

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Author:Van Dreel, Lydia
Publication:The Horn Call
Date:Oct 1, 2015
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