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Randy Waldman: Wigged Out

With one of the longest performing, composing, and producing resumes in the music industry, it must be difficult for the dazzlingly talented Randy Waldman to come up with new challenges…so he dipped way into the vault of influences and came up with the wonderfully fun and inventive Wigged Out (Whirlybird Records 9855; 55:15), a collection of jazz arrangements of well-recognized classical pieces which pays a creative tribute without diminishing the masters. Waldman’s trio (including Vinnie Colaiuta on drums and John Patitucci on bass) give stylish treatments to pieces ranging from Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf” (with whirling piano and a cool horn chorus) to Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” (flying on a dark Latin feel). The trio’s explorations are as rewarding as they are initially shocking-the familiar melody of Beethoven’s “Minuet in G” is exploded into a synchopated upbeat romp, with a train ride blitheness. Likewise “Flight of the Bumblebee” opens with a tour de force of keyboard work (Waldman) and amazing fretwork (Patitucci), then breaks into a loose jazz walk-always keeping the familiar threads going. Beethoven’s “5th Symphony” comes alive in a crazy ’50s-style large ensemble samba jam, complete with horns, strings, and shocking orchestral breaks. This lovingly rendered, exciting album would undoubtedly have the masters (given jazz handles like “Rocky” Rachmaninoff and “Wiggy” Van Beethoven in the liner notes) tapping their toes with pleasure at the tribute.

Originally Published