The Rite of Spring lends itself extremely well to jazz interpretations: those wild off-beats and dissonances must be a jazz artist’s wet dream. Pianist and composer David Patrick’s arrangement for a jazz ensemble of 3 woodwind, 3 brass and jazz trio not only provides a recap of the famous themes but captures much of the texture of the original, which is remarkable considering the complexity of Stravinsky’s orchestration.
An exciting and accomplished arrangement of a controversial masterwork, The Jazz Rite of Spring demonstrates a sensitive understanding and affection for the original, whilst also demonstrating its natural kinship to jazz’s musical language.
Constrained by the finality of their hour-long slot, Patrick could be seen to hurry the band along and perhaps skip sections in order to finish before the lights were turned on. But this never distracted from the musicianship on display or how involved Patrick is with his band and the music: he could be seen laughing at the trombone’s display of extended techniques and was visibly delighted with the virtuosity of his drummer.
As he should have been: for it is perhaps the rhythms that provide most of the trouble for musicians in The Rite of Spring. “How on earth do you count that?” is something I find myself asking several times during the piece. With the use of a traditional drum kit as percussion these complexities can be highlighted and their jazz-like qualities truly revealed.
This is not to say that the drummer stole the show. As Patrick exclaimed during his closing thanks: “what a band!” This is a world-class ensemble completely at ease with each other and the incredibly complex music in front of them; it’s always special witnessing a group of musicians at the top of their game.
An exciting and accomplished arrangement of a controversial masterwork, The Jazz Rite of Spring demonstrates a sensitive understanding and affection for the original, whilst also demonstrating its natural kinship to jazz’s musical language. Stravinsky aficionados as well as jazz fans will be delighted with this fascinating and intelligent homage.