recordings

Symbiosis

Symbiosis. Now, here’s some jazz and classical fusion with flair that’s sure to appeal to jazz experimentalists everywhere. Expressive, harmonious horns, lively jazz piano, and an obvious sense of ownership all serve to label this album a winner.

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Dutch pianist Joost Swart, the Gustaav Klimt String Quartet, and sax quintet Saxion V, on behalf of the Morfo Music Foundation, resurrect Symbiosis, a highly regarded milestone in jazz/classical fusion and first penned for piano trio and orchestra by Claus Ogerman in 1973. The work was first recorded by pianist Bill Evans in 1974 and became a true hard-to-find collector’s item.

The album, consisting of two movements is a real exercise in clear, pure energy in a laid-back jazz setting. Interestingly enough, Symbiosis was never recorded in full after Bill Evans’s recording of it until here. The original recording included a symphony orchestra (the New York Philharmonic, to be specific), four alto saxes led by Phil Woods, The Bill Evans Trio, and additional percussion and woodwinds. The newer version is a much smaller ensemble, consisting of five strings, five saxes, percussion, and piano trio. The resulting sound is quite refreshing on a more intimate level. There are satisfying runs and a very large presence.

If and only if you’re serious about intense, somewhat complicated runs and harmonies, Joost Swart and Co. get to what moves you, and they do so quickly and throughout.