The Henry Mancini Institute offers the most promising young musicians from across the world a chance to experience an intensive summer educational program that provides encounters with various musical styles that they will be required to perform as professionals - orchestral, Broadway theatre, film scores, and contemporary pop and jazz. During the course of the program, the Institute offers a free concert series where the students perform the music that they are studying. This CD is a compilation of performances from the 2002 concert series.
The orchestra is directed by the renowned Patrick Williams and includes some of today's brightest young musical talent drawn from top music schools and conservatories. The orchestra performs mainly newly commissioned or newly scored works as well as compositions written by a an impressive roster of guest performers that include Dave Grusin, Bob Sheppard, and the Peter Erskine Trio. The orchestra also features its own virtuoso soloists, including pianists Mahesh Balasooriya, Daniel Szabo, and Gerald Clayton (son of bassist John Clayton), and violinist Yue Deng.
As my description should indicate, the focus of this CD is the orchestra. While the music they perform is the cream of contemporary orchestra composition and arranging, this is not a "jazz orchestra". The three pieces that feature Peter Erskine and Dave Grusin's groups are the only real forays that the orchestra takes into the contemporary jazz realm.
I would not hesitate to commend the work of the Mancini Institute, or to recommend this superbly-recorded CD to classical music listeners, particularly those who prefer 20th century compositions or arrangements. But the jazz content of this CD is not strong enough for it to be considered a "jazz" recording.The Henry Mancini Institute is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Donations can be directed to the institute by visiting their website, www.manciniinstitute.org.