With a surely groundbreaking lineup of oboe and accordion, both played with impressive confidence and skill, Canadian entertainers Maier and Cozens have used their own compositions and audacious adaptations in this intriguingly hybrid caper through a range of musical traditions and styles of expression.
The tracks are arranged in three-piece mini-suites, themed rather vaguely as “nature, “the colour blue” and “celebration”. These are introduced by brief dialogues of quite trivial theme-related recollections of experiences on holiday or touring, cheerfully narrated in onstage style. The album as a whole seems presented as fairly highbrow musical cabaret entertainment, essentially classical in nature, but mischievously adaptive.
Interspersed amongst an ever changing mix of classical, jazz, blues and folk/dance (tango, gypsy, Klezmer) are passages of improvisation, the thinner and more nasally-toned oboe coping surprisingly well with the role more usually taken by the clarinet in the more jazz-related sections. Tiger Rag, The Plight Of The Bumble Bee and Klezmer Fun are showcase breakneck entertainment, Cozens strong in rhythmic response to Maier’s fast-wheeling flights on oboe.
In contrast, fanciful romantic arrangements graft Arlen’s Somewhere Over The Rainbow, a touch uncomfortably, onto Debussy’s Clair De Lune, whilst Bach’s Air On A G String is wrapped in a few bars of 50s-style orchestral strings. A lengthy, intense and quite dissonant interpretation in jazz style of Chick Corea’s La Fiesta rounds off this ambitiously hybrid project.
It’s by no means an out-and-out jazz release, but it’s entertainingly innovative and performed with imaginative versatility and accomplished musicianship.
(1) Spirit Of Earth; (2) Tiger Rag; (3) Somewhere Under The Rainbow; (2) Plight Of The Bumble Bee; (1) Prism Of Time; (2) Rhapsody In Light Blue; Isolation Blues; (3) Air On A Blue String; (1) Celebration; (2) Klezmer Fun; (3) Tango De La Noche; (2) Czardahora; (1) The Mirror; (2) La Fiesta
(1) Maier, Cozens. Spoken dialogue with backing (p/b).
(2) Maier (o, b, h, v); Cozens (p, acn, v). Toronto and Hamilton, Canada 2021.
(3) as (2). Add strings – Cory Gemmel, Bijan Sepanji (v); Bridget LaMarche (vla); Liza McLennan (clo).
MMXX1 JR Records