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Hit Couleurs JAZZ

A new stone has been added to the Jazz edifice, or to be more precise, to the bridge that allows you to go from one bank to the other, in this case from classical music to jazz. Crossings in both directions are authorized…

Le Carnajazz des Animaux is the work of one of the great architects of jazz today, Christophe Dal Sasso, who, conducting a top-class jazz orchestra (all the musicians in this ensemble are recognized creative composers and instrumentalists), gives a new vision of the original work by Camille Saint-Saëns.

A quick reminder of the “facts”:

“Le Carnaval des Animaux” is a comic musical suite composed by Camille Saint-Saëns in 1886, characterized by its light, humorous tone. It is popular and appreciated by both classical music fans and a wider public for its playfulness. Here are a few highlights about “Carnaval des Animaux”:

The work consists of 14 short movements, each representing a different animal. Some of the most famous movements include “The Swan”, “The Elephant” and “Fossils“. Saint-Saëns created this piece with humorous, sometimes even satirical intent. The exaggerated musical characteristics and musical puns add to its comic edge. The work was originally written for an unusual ensemble of instruments, including two pianos, xylophone, celesta and string orchestra. This unusual instrumentation contributes to the work’s originality. Each movement represents a different animal, and Saint-Saëns uses music to illustrate the characteristics of each animal. For example, the movement “Le Cygne” (The Swan) is known for its grace, while “L’Éléphant” (The Elephant) uses low tones to represent its mass.

Because of its playful nature, “Carnival of the Animals” is often used for educational purposes to introduce children to classical music. Let’s hope that this version, which follows on from the Amazing Keystone Big Band version, offers younger generations the opportunity to glimpse jazz as an essential mode of musical interpretation.

There are still other jazz adaptations of “Carnival of the Animals“. This is the richness of jazz. Rhythmic variations, improvisations, they all differ and add a stone to the edifice I mentioned at the beginning of this review.

These include: Swing de Paris – “Le Carnaval des Animaux (Carnival of the Animals, in gypsy jazz; British saxophonist and composer John Dankworth in his adaptation entitled “What the Animals Say“; The Modern Jazz Quartet (MJQ) recorded a version of the work in 1962, and their interpretation of “Carnaval des Animaux” reflects their highly personal approach to jazz; The Turtle Island Quartet, with “A Love Supreme: The Legacy of John Coltrane“; although this album is primarily an interpretation of John Coltrane’s work, the Turtle Island Quartet also includes a jazz adaptation of “Carnaval des Animaux”. The group, which specializes in fusing different musical genres, offers a unique perspective on this classic piece.

And even Dave Brubeck recorded a version of the work in collaboration with the London Symphony Orchestra. Brubeck’s adaptation combines jazz elements with classical orchestration, creating an interesting fusion of the two genres.

So, in this brilliant latest version by maestro arranger Dal Sasso and his acolytes, it’s humor and lightness, perhaps even mockery and irony, that also characterize this work. So in the jazz we love, the work of arranging and re-orchestration opens up improvisational ramps for fabulous soloists like David El-Malek, Quenton Ghomari, Thomas Savy, Sophie Alour, Pierre de Bethmann or Julien Alour

A full list of the staff is given at the end.

The whole (the big band) offers a joyful, swinging, clever, gourmet jazz, to be listened to by all classical and jazz fans alike.

A true carnage, this Carnajazz ! (in the good, admiring sense of the word)

Line up:

Christophe Dal Sasso: flute, alto flute, bamboo flute
Julien Alour: trumpet, flugelhorn
Quentin Ghomari: trumpet, flugelhorn
Julien Écrepont: trumpet, flugelhorn
Jerry Edwards: trombone
Bastien Stil : tuba
Thomas Savy: clarinet, bass clarinet
Dominique Mandin: alto saxophone, flute
Sophie Alour: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute
David El-Malek : tenor saxophone
Rémi Biet : alto saxophone, flute
Pierre de Bethmann : piano
Manuel Marchès : doublebass
Karl Jannuska : drums

The Carnajazz des Animaux was released by the label Klarthe Records, on January 26, 2024.

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