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Magali Souriau Orchestra: Birdland Sessions

Recorded over two nights in ’97 and ’98, Magali Souriau has crafted a 10-track program of nine impressionistic originals and a fresh reshaping of Monk’s “Ask Me Now.” The recipient of a Gil Evans fellowship, this young French woman is apparently a piano prodigy who has turned those skills over toward developing her compositional chops. Comparisons to Maria Schneider are inevitable, given the Evans connection and her pedigree, but she’s got a ways to go before reaching that level.

As with other ardent composers, I yearn for one of her impressions to be humor-an element for future growth, perhaps. Harmonically, she’s a bit ahead of the curve in her development, though the program sounds like a work for a composition fellowship panel: it amply showcases Souriau’s myriad skills but it leaves little to remember her by. The band is sprinkled with several notables, including trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, saxman Chris Cheek, pianist Aaron Goldberg, bassist Dennis Irwin and drummer Jeff Ballard. So where’s she been in the roughly two years since the last of these tracks was recorded? A progress report seems in order.

Originally Published