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Vienna Art Orchestra: All That Strauss

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Jazz fans who already know the music of Johann Strauss will appreciate the liberties Ruegg takes on All That Strauss. This live recording from New Year’s Day 2000 opens with the stately “Wein, Weib und Gesang,” featuring some swinging counterpoint by trombonists Christian Radovan and Robert Bachner, and a dancing clarinet solo by Klaus Dickbauer. Like most of his colleagues, Dickbauer can play with a straight, beautiful tone or he can get nasty with raspy cries and bent notes, even when double- and triple-timing his solo.

Unfortunately, many of the solos on this CD end too soon, as the focus remains on the pieces, not the players. There are special guest appearances by clarinetist Michel Portal on a soulful and swinging “Persich er Marsch,” and harmonica soloist Bertl Mayer is featured on a sickly sweet “Marienklange Walzer.” Another guest, alto saxophonist Wolfgang Pushnig, is all over the familiar “Donau Walzer (The Blue Danube).” On the whole, this disc is very well done. Unless you’re a fan of Strauss or the waltz, however, you might want to sit this one out.