Aarhus Jazz Orchestra Presents Lars Moller’s ReWrite of Spring, Featuring David Liebman and Marilyn Mazur
By Grego Applegate Edwards
There have been a few jazz rethinkings of Stravinsky’s landmark “Rite of Spring” but none so thoroughly reworked and rethought as Lars Moller’s ReWrite of Spring (DaCapo 8.226117-18) which fills two CDs with a studio version and a live version. The Aarhus Jazz Orchestra plays with a marvelous discipline and artistry under Lars’ conductorship. David Liebman’s soprano and Marilyn Mazur’s percussion take on some prominent roles and they rise to the occasion wonderfully.
17 fine musicians make up the Aarhus outfit. They are put through their paces with great results.
The composition ultimately is the main premise here, understandably. Moller is a jazz composer of genuine talent. Whether you know the original “Rite” like the back of your hand or not much at all, the music speaks for itself here in all its throaty complexity. Those who know the Stravinsky will hear motifs emerging from the carpet of big band sounds and so have an inside track of what Moller is up to. But then the results are so engaging in a modern vein that those with big ears will doubtless not fail to appreciate what is going on regardless.
The live version has a bit more time (ten minutes, to be exact) for solo space that Liebman and Mazur take advantage of with the excellence one expects from them.
In the end the idea of a complete “ReWrite” of the “Rite” is a good one. You in effect get a wholly new, wholly modern jazz oriented work that transposes the excitement of the original to a present-day big band context. Moller knows his band, the instrumentation and the players involved well and scores the music with a post-Evans insight into the varied colors, textures and potential power he has at his disposal.
It is a triumph for all, nearly breathtaking in its strength and breadth, performed with magnificance and filled with compositional brilliance.