Two years ago Belgian composer/trumpeter Bert Joris received a commission to write two extended works plus two shorter pieces for the BJO and the Philharmonic. He rose to the challenge eloquently, also serving as main soloist for the four works premiered in Antwerp, Belgium, in 2006. Joris took the logical path for his solo playing. At no time was he required to adopt so-called “legitimate phrasing.” Nor was the Jazz Orchestra. Conversely, members of the Philharmonic were not called on to swing. They are disparate ensembles, functioning in two different worlds. As studio players often comment, “It all depends on how you phrase eighth notes.”
Joris solved the gap in concepts by juxtaposing, rather than integrating, swing with classical. The closest instance of integration occurs on “Alone At Last,” one of the two short works, which features Joris’ most memorable soloing. When the large string section played legato, the BJO rhythm section managed to insert a rhythmic line. As for Joris’ compositional skills, his romantic writing and orchestrating would serve him well as a film scorer.