Astonish Me! – The Jazz Rite of Spring

Igor Stravinsky once said ‘what gives the artist real prestige is his imitators.’ David Patrick and his octet do this statement great justice, where their take on the Russian-French composer’s renowned The Rite of Spring is reanimated through the lively tempo of an eight-piece jazz band. Undeniably, Astonish Me! perfectly emulates the unfolding of springtime akin to Stravinsky’s original ballet composition, but with a unique twist that carries an air of innovation that expounds the more exemplary ingredients at play.

An early afternoon delight and, above all, a pleasure to watch.

There is no lack of creativity where improv is concerned and, for the most part, all performers handle their given solos with great finesse. Leader David Patrick emerges a distinct shade above his cohorts where his refined abilities on the piano allow room for the band to master their craft. He handles the volume and chord changes tremendously well, aiding the company in their quest for musical glory. And for such a limited scale in which they work to present Stravinsky’s magnum opus, you have to give them credit.

More than once, however, the percussion does not allow sufficient space for the bass to be heard, even on the softer numbers. Trombonist John Kerry risked a lower rating with his bizarre, third-act solo. But this is a minor criticism of an experienced troupe of artists. What barely visible errors appeared – the occasional strained note or mistimed beat – were hastily forgotten in the fray of blissful melodies and ascending scales.

The clincher is the closing number that reaffirms their professionalism, where their exceptional improv skills emerge as the highlight. No less a journey and nothing short of remarkable, Astonish Me! is an early afternoon delight and, above all, a pleasure to watch.

Reviews by Stuart Mckenzie

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The Blurb

David Patrick's stunning jazz reinterpretation of The Rite of Spring has received standing ovations at every performance. It is unique in featuring all of the main themes of Stravinsky's masterwork, seamlessly moving into improvising sections featuring the soloists. ‘A triumph... people were on their feet cheering and clapping after the slamming finale’ **** (Rob Adams, Herald, May 2013). ‘A world-class ensemble completely at ease with each other and this incredibly complex music’ (, Edinburgh Fringe 2014). ‘A huge undertaking... Spine-tingling in its power... it works, and brilliantly’ ***** (Scotsman, Edinburgh Fringe 2015).

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