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November 2007

Lalo Schifrin
Lalo Schifrin & Friends
Aleph Records

This album bills itself as Lalo Schifrin’s celebration of his 75th birthday and a return to his jazz roots. It is a very classy project. The sidemen Schifrin chose are accomplished veteran musicians exclusively: James Moody, James Morrison, Dennis Budimir, Brian Bromberg and Alex Acuña. The exceptional level of chops here, and the impeccable craftsmanship of Schifrin’s compositions and arrangements, makes this album feel like a rare jazz recording without a single wrong note. The recorded sound by engineer Gustavo Borner is first-rate.

It also speaks to the care lavished on this production that the liner notes by Dr. Richard Palmer are voluminous and detailed. Unfortunately those liner notes do Schifrin a disservice by making claims for him that his music cannot support. Palmer believes that Schifrin is “as important as Gil Evans,” and that “Winter Landscapes” (a piece almost as mild-mannered and refined as Schifrin’s other five originals here) is “resonant of anguish, even tragedy.” Schifrin was Dizzy Gillespie’s pianist for three years in the early ’60s. He made a career change many decades ago and became a successful composer of film scores. The music on this album is pleasant and polished and professional, but it is a long way indeed from Gil Evans. And Schifrin’s version of tragedy is much closer to Hollywood’s than Shakespeare’s.

Originally published in November 2007
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