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(Published: October 03, 2013)

Works by Schuller and D'earth; guests include guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel...

The same soaring spirit of wonder, imagination and adventure that has taken the Kandinsky Trio on a 25-year career journey redefining the chamber music genre, now takes flight with its new recording, On Light Wings. Spanning the American musical entities of jazz, classical, and creative improvisation, the recording (OmniTone 15219, Oct. 15 release), features three world premiere recordings by two compelling American composers-Gunther Schuller and John D'earth-and three guest artists.

Jazz makes its presence known throughout all three works. Composer/jazz trumpeter John D'earth wrote Natural Bridge for the Kandinsky in 2001 with the addition of guitar and bass (on this recording, Kurt Rosenwinkel and Paul Langosch, respectively). Rosenwinkel describes Natural Bridge as "a wonderful journey through diverse musical landscapes that showcases the Kandinsky's natural eclectic vision, enthusiastic and open-minded spirit, virtuosity and cohesiveness, and juxtaposes modern jazz guitar as the lead narrative voice, blending sonic and stylistic territories."

The Trio commissioned D'earth's beautifully creepy Silent Faustus as an adaptation of his 2003 full score for F. W. Mernau's 1926 silent film masterpiece, Faustus. This condensed version (2007) is a musical evocation of Faust's pact-with-the-devil story, but reworked to push the performers' limits in new ways. According to D'earth, "they are all being asked to improvise at various points, both as soloists and accompanists, engaging in different techniques including the traditional jazz practice of soloing over set forms, and thematic paraphrase that edges into totally free improvisation."

On Light Wings takes its name from the subtitle of Gunther Schuller's 1984 four-movement Piano Quartet, performed here by the Kandinsky and guest British violist Roger Chase. A metaphor for the work's generally light character, Schuller says the piece "results not so much from ‘experimentation' or any kind of radical attempts at ‘originality,' but rather from an urge to identify a recognizable, personal language." The last movement, Bagatelle (With Swing) "attempts once again to bring the strings into the world of modern jazz - an idiom to which this category of instruments (and instrumentalists) has been curiously resistant," notes the composer.

Schuller, the world-renowned composer, conductor, performer, educator, record producer, and music publisher, has written more than 160 original compositions in virtually every musical genre, authored five books, and founded his own record company. Awards include the Pulitzer Prize, the MacArthur "Genius" Award, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Gold Medal for Music, BMI Lifetime Achievement Award and Columbia University's William Schuman Award.

"Our exposure to Gunther's Third Stream department at New England Conservatory is, in a way, the essence of this recording," explains cellist Alan Weinstein, who, along with violinist Benedict Goodfriend, made his original connection to Schuller during Weinstein's time as an NEC student.

Massachusetts-born John D'earth studied with both classical and jazz musicians including the innovative Thad Jones. He has performed and recorded internationally and appeared on over 50 recordings with Buddy Rich, Lionel Hampton, Miles Davis, Tito Puente, and Pat Metheny, among others. D'earth has composed and arranged music for the Kronos Quartet, the Dave Matthews Band, and numerous orchestras and jazz ensembles. As University of Virginia's Director of Jazz Studies, D'earth teaches improvisation, jazz trumpet and directs the UVA Jazz Ensemble.

The Kandinsky Trio (Benedict Goodfriend, violin; Alan Weinstein, cello; Elizabeth Bachelder, piano) begins its 26th season celebrating one of the longest and most successful artist residencies in the country at historic Roanoke College, with more than 1,000 chamber music concerts in the U.S., Europe, and Canada. The Trio often fuses cultures and styles with such collaborators as hip hop dancers, Appalachian storytellers, a beat boxer, mouth effect artist, and champion whistler, in addition to performing standard classical repertoire.

On Light Wings' three guest artists are prominent in their respective fields. Kurt Rosenwinkel's worldwide performances reflect his distinct sound and improvisatory style, summed up by Howard Reich (Chicago Tribune): "Rosenwinkel's music represents the sound of the future-just as bebop once did." Bassist Paul Langosch has worked with many leaders in the jazz world, including as a permanent member of Tony Bennett's trio for more than 20 years. Known for his expressive eloquence, violist Roger Chase has performed as soloist and chamber musician in the world's major cities. He also served as principal violist of the London Sinfonietta and was a member of the prestigious Nash Ensemble for more than two decades.

The CD retails for $15 and will be available through omnitone.com/onlightwings, on iTunes and amazon.com or by phone at 617-846-0861. This project was made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts as part of American Masterpieces: Three Centuries of Artistic Genius.

Founded in 1999, OmniTone is dedicated to releasing new recordings of "adventurous and listenable jazz" from today's foremost creative improvising musicians. Through the label and its on-line store, OmniTone offers "All the tones, all the shapes, all the time...."


More Information: https://Complete CD information—including sound samples, hi-res cover image, program notes, artist biographies and more—is available at omnitone.com/onlightwings. For more on the Kandinsky Trio, visit kandinskytrio.org.

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