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Album Review: Bach Improvisations
Ira Stein Trio
Cover image of the album Bach Improvisations by Ira Stein Trio
Bach Improvisations
Ira Stein Trio
1998 / Lost Time Records
61 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Pianist Ira Stein’s career keeps going off into fresh new directions, and this is a really bold venture. Formerly on both Windham Hill (with oboist Russel Walder) and Narada with and without his trio, Ira has done this album independently on his own Lost Time Records. Most labels are no longer as adventurous and experimental as they were ten years ago, so to keep his artistic vision and integrity, Ira is going it alone. Bach Improvisations is so good that it should become an underground hit. This is no smooth jazz/easy listening white bread. There is plenty of improvisational muscle behind the nine chorales, and the arrangements are complex and challenging enough to keep listeners discovering new things each time they hear this CD. Ira’s elegant pianism strongly reflects both his classical and jazz backgrounds, and he shares the musical spotlight with cellist Joseph Hebert and Dann Zinn on soprano sax; all three are amazing musicians. Joe Hebert has to be one of the most versatile cellists around - he plays pizzicato on some tracks, making it sound like he is playing bass; then he soars with full-bowed classical treatment. Dann Zinn’s sax definitely pushes this CD farther into jazz territory than classical; he really lets loose on “Liebster, Jesu, wir sind hier” and “Jesu, meine Freude”, both of which he arranged or co-arranged with Ira. Ira, Joe, and Dann have been playing together for several years now, and it really shows in the way they blend the sounds of three very different instruments with their own diverse playing styles. All nine cuts are excellent, all offer a different perspective on Bach’s short musical themes (the original chorales average about 30 seconds in length), from sweet and flowing to the exhilarating “Jesu, meine Freude” (I attended one of the concerts/recording sessions for this CD, and can attest that the walls shook and the audience loved this cut!). Ira has been working on this project for several years, and it has been exciting to see it evolve from an idea to this incredible finished product! Very original and very different, good luck to the record stores in finding a bin for this one! Bravo to The Ira Stein Trio for making it happen!
August 8, 1998
This review has been tagged as:
ClassicalKathy's Favorites: 1998
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