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The Classical Underground / Imani Winds


Release Date: 01/25/2005 
Label:  Koch International Classics Catalog #: 7599   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Astor PiazzollaPaquito D'RiveraTraditionalLalo Schifrin,   ... 
Performer:  Rene MarieRolando Morales-Matos
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Imani Winds
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This album was nominated for the 2006 Grammy Award for "Best Classical Crossover Album."

R E V I E W S:

Imani Winds is a wind quintet made up of young musicians of Afro- or Latin-American background (Valerie Coleman, flute; Toyin Spellman, oboe; Mariam Adam, clarinet; Jeff Scott, French horn, and Monica Ellis, bassoon). The group has toured the US several times garnering a series of excellent reviews, and no wonder: they are first-class instrumentalists in a tight ensemble with an individual and interesting repertoire. To quote the blurb, their mission is “exploring links between European, African, and American musical traditions.” Although this may sound worthy and a bit serious, the result is anything
Read more but. In fact, their debut disc is serious fun from beginning to end! Not only do they play with spirit and sensitivity, they also manage to evoke the vital essence of the rich musical cultures they explore: witness the Dixieland-style slurs and bent notes employed so deftly in Jeff Scott’s Homage to Duke (an arrangement of Come Sunday from Duke Ellington’s Black, Brown, and Beige suite), or the percussive, physical writing in the Danza movement from Valerie Coleman’s Concerto for Wind Quintet.

Imani Winds is lucky to have such creative members as Scott and Coleman. The latter’s so-called concerto—there is no orchestral component—is a strong, thoughtful composition in its own right; much more than a mere instrumental showpiece. Jeff Scott’s arrangement of Piazzolla’s Liber tango adds a Latin percussionist (Rolando Morales Martos) to bracing effect. Scott has also rearranged the final movement of Paquito D’Rivera’s more traditional dance suite Aires tropicales. This movement, “Afro,” has been rethought as an extended improvisation involving percussion and an African singer (René Marie), producing the most ethnomusicological and least “classical” track on the CD. For the sake of completeness, I would have preferred to hear D’Rivera’s original finale before moving on to Scott’s version. Maybe there wasn’t room to include it.

I think my favorite track is Coleman’s arrangement of the spiritual Steal Away. Rather than simply harmonize the tune (which would be lovely and perfectly valid on wind quintet) she creates a kind of fantasia, giving each instrument a distinct and individual contribution to make: exactly what happens in a gospel-singing group. The more straightforward works by Lalo Schifrin and D’Rivera are lively and colorful.

This is committed, single-minded music-making, recorded in fairly close but comfortable sound. Imani means “faith” in Swahili; these musicians have faith in themselves and it shows. If, next time, they opt to record their mainstream repertoire (Barber’s Summer Music, for instance), the result should be pretty special.

FANFARE: Phillip Scott
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Works on This Recording

1.
Libertango by Astor Piazzolla
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Imani Winds
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Argentina 
Date of Recording: 07/2004 
Venue:  Theater C, SUNY Purchase 
Length: 5 Minutes 9 Secs. 
Notes: Arranger: Jeff Scott. 
2.
Aires Tropicales by Paquito D'Rivera
Performer:  Rene Marie (Voice), Rolando Morales-Matos (Percussion)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Imani Winds
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1994; USA 
Date of Recording: 07/2004 
Venue:  Theater C, SUNY Purchase 
Length: 26 Minutes 8 Secs. 
Notes: Arranger: Jeff Scott. 
3.
Steal away to Jesus by Traditional
Performer:  Rene Marie (Voice), Rolando Morales-Matos (Percussion)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Imani Winds
Written: USA 
Date of Recording: 07/2004 
Venue:  Theater C, SUNY Purchase 
Notes: Arranger: Valerie Coleman. 
4.
Quintet for Winds "La Nouvelle Orleans" by Lalo Schifrin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Imani Winds
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
Date of Recording: 07/2004 
Venue:  Theater C, SUNY Purchase 
Length: 8 Minutes 1 Secs. 
5.
Afro-Cuban Concerto for Wind Quintet by Valerie Coleman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Imani Winds
Period: 20th Century 
Date of Recording: 07/2004 
Venue:  Theater C, SUNY Purchase 
Length: 15 Minutes 41 Secs. 
6.
Homage to Duke by Jeff Scott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Imani Winds
Date of Recording: 07/2004 
Venue:  Theater C, SUNY Purchase 
Length: 7 Minutes 0 Secs. 

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