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Convergence by Chris Brubeck

When trombonist Chris Brubeck isn’t performing with The Brubeck Brothers Quartet or Triple Play, he is busy composing modern classical pieces that draw from jazz and other influences.

Convergence features three of his sweeping works. The first is the three-part title piece performed by the Czech National Symphony Orchestra, with conductor Paul Freeman. It begins with the fast and dramatic movement "The Journey," which leads into the slow "Reminiscence in Blues," a composition that starts with the sad sound of strings, but then transitions into horns that recall a late-night jazz club. Drums then lead the movement into the final piece, a march called "La Grande Parade du Funk," a fast, drum-heavy tune that captures the enthusiasm of a parade.

The second work is the risky "River of Song," a six-part piece that was inspired by and features the poetry of children. The poems have a nature theme and specifically deal with water. This sounds like it could be a little too precious, but the section manages to avoid being overly sentimental. Brubeck and mezzo-soprano extraordinaire Frederica von Stade treat the material with care, with the lyrics serving as one layer of a more complex work. Here, the Tassajara Symphony performs, with Sara Jobin conducting. Soprano Rachel Luxon also takes part. The work ends with an E.E. Cummings poem "Maggie and Milly and Molly and May."

The third and final part is the "Prague Concerto for Bass Trombone and Orchestra." Once again, the Czech orchestra performs, with maestro Freeman at the helm. Brubeck, the son of Dave Brubeck, is the featured soloist. This section closes with the nearly 10-minute long "Dance of the Neocons," a big, splashy tour de force that showcases Brubeck’s bass trombone. At first, his hearty playing lifts and punctuates the music. About four minutes into the number, the song takes a turn, and Brubeck launches into a jazz-inspired solo before bringing the orchestra back into the fold. It’s a highlight of the CD, which Koch releases as a hybrid SACD recording.

It should be noted that despite touches of jazz, Convergence is firmly a work in classical and orchestral music.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Chris Brubeck
  • CD Title: Convergence
  • Genre: Other
  • Year Released: 2005
  • Record Label: Koch
  • Tracks: Convergence: The Journey, Reminiscence in Blues, La Grande Parade du Funk; River of Song: Water, The Storm is Coming, Moon Song, Goldfish, The River, Maggie and milly and molly and may; Prague Concerto for Bass Trombone and Orchestra: The Return of the Prince, Song of the Mountains and Dance of the Neocons.
  • Musicians: Chris Brubeck (bass trombone and composer), Frederica von Stade (mezzo-soprano), Rachel Luxon (soprano), Czech National Symphony Orchestra (conductor Paul Freeman) and Tassajara Symphony (conductor Sara Jobin)
  • Rating: Four Stars
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