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May 2005

Carlos Franzetti
The Jazz Kamerata
Chesky Records

Carlos Franzetti's The Jazz Kamerata is a project both ambitious and modest. While it clearly seeks that seductive, elusive ideal of the jazz/classical hybrid, Franzetti humbly describes it as "a mood album." It is notably successful in both regards.

Franzetti, a pianist, vocalist, conductor and composer of classical concert pieces and film scores, understands that the way to achieve synergies between the classical and jazz genres is not to blend them but to creatively juxtapose them. His program contains jazz standards by the famous (Miles, Jarrett, Shorter) and the almost famous (Clare Fischer, Claus Ogerman). Franzetti uses a seven-piece ensemble of woodwinds and strings to provide complementary, evocative contexts (all seven players are classical musicians except bassist Jay Leonhart), and sets free his own piano, Lawrence Feldman's reeds, and Leonhart's bass to improvise over and within them.

His charts are elegantly spare and light and clean. Slowed to languor, Franzetti's take on "Nefertiti" touches a new essence of this familiar tune, with strings softly brushing in a background for Leonhart's brooding bass and Feldman's pensive alto. Fischer's "When Autumn Comes" is representative, a definitive yet diaphanous portrayal of melody.

Franzetti the pianist is a lyrical minimalist with a sure instinct for what Franzetti the arranger needs at a given moment. For many, the revelation of this album will be Feldman, whose tone on all three saxophones he employs is pure and luminous, and whose ideas about these songs are respectful, subtle and intriguing.

This is indeed a mood album. It casts a spell and never breaks it.Carlos Franzetti's The Jazz Kamerata is a project both ambitious and modest. While it clearly seeks that seductive, elusive ideal of the jazz/classical hybrid, Franzetti humbly describes it as "a mood album." It is notably successful in both regards.

Franzetti, a pianist, vocalist, conductor and composer of classical concert pieces and film scores, understands that the way to achieve synergies between the classical and jazz genres is not to blend them but to creatively juxtapose them. His program contains jazz standards by the famous (Miles, Jarrett, Shorter) and the almost famous (Clare Fischer, Claus Ogerman). Franzetti uses a seven-piece ensemble of woodwinds and strings to provide complementary, evocative contexts (all seven players are classical musicians except bassist Jay Leonhart), and sets free his own piano, Lawrence Feldman's reeds, and Leonhart's bass to improvise over and within them.

His charts are elegantly spare and light and clean. Slowed to languor, Franzetti's take on "Nefertiti" touches a new essence of this familiar tune, with strings softly brushing in a background for Leonhart's brooding bass and Feldman's pensive alto. Fischer's "When Autumn Comes" is representative, a definitive yet diaphanous portrayal of melody.

Franzetti the pianist is a lyrical minimalist with a sure instinct for what Franzetti the arranger needs at a given moment. For many, the revelation of this album will be Feldman, whose tone on all three saxophones he employs is pure and luminous, and whose ideas about these songs are respectful, subtle and intriguing.

This is indeed a mood album. It casts a spell and never breaks it.

Originally published in May 2005
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