When he was 15, Frank Macchia heard Focus, the famous Stan Getz album with string arrangements by Eddie Sauter. Thirty years later, it’s the inspiration behind this album, which features the Prague Orchestra. Macchia plays tenor saxophone—and on one track, bass flute and synthesizer—and he wrote all the arrangements and composed nine of the 11 tunes. The music is dark and rich and definitely programmatic. Parts of it could be a movie soundtrack—an atmospheric score full of romance and intrigue.
Take his “Dark Corners,” for example, a bow to film composer Bernard Herrmann. This one has not only the Getz-Sauter sound but also a haunting otherworldliness akin to Gil Evans’ arrangements. The Evans influence also appears on “Prayer for Earth,” a blend of Tracy London’s voice, Macchia’s bass flute and synthesizer, and several overdubs of each. The folk song, “Black Is the Color of My True Love’s Hair” is another thrilling mood piece. On his four-part “Emotions” suite he employs strings alone; on others he uses strings, woodwinds and two harps.
Macchia’s tenor isn’t slavishly Getz-like, although there is a certain tonal similarity from time to time. He threads lyrically through these arrangements with graceful fluency and a nice bulk in his sound. Taken together, this combination of tenor soloist and strings is a lovely and substantive affair.