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Customer Reviews

Papa Bach boogies! Who knew?!

You are welcome to the Beatles cuts on this CD. The Bach tracks are what make it worth the price.

Don't get me wrong. I love the Beatles, but honestly, the works of Lennon and McCartney do not easily adapt to the jazz trio style. It's more like being pummeled into submission. What's left is better heard in a vertically moving metal booth with a panel of numbered buttons next to its automatic sliding doors (OK, OK, I'll say it! It's ELEVATOR MUSIC!). ::whew::

The Bach selections, quite the opposite, are as at home with a cup of strong black coffee at a bistro table for two as they are on a picnic with an 8-piece spicy chicken dinner from Popeye's (red beans and rice, please). It's only right. Bach was, after all, such an improviser that some of his compositions consist of 2 or 3 chords. It was up to the performer to put SOMETHING between those chords.

When these recordings were originally released on the Angel Records digital LP "Brandenburg Boogie," the titular track was the opening salvo. Here, it's saved for last and very well indeed it serves as a finale to the works that precede it.

"Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" sways in a hammock nudged by the breezes of Stephane Grappelli's violin and Elena Duran's flute while Laurie Holloway's piano work sparkles like sunlight filtering through the leaves.

"Groovy Gavotte," based on the Gavotte from French Suite for keyboard No. 5 in G major struts along like an iron-pumping peacock with attitude. Grappelli sits this one out while Duran plays straight lady to Holloway's key-pounding improvisation evocative of that peacock whomping the snot out of a hawk that tried to have him for lunch.

Everyone who records Bach records "Air on the G String." Maybe it's some kind of RIAA reguirement but here, the most mellow cut on the whole disc, is where the whole trio seems to be at their most adventurous. Even Duran nudges her flute outside the dots and lines more than on any other cut.

The Minuet from the Little Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach returns to the norm with Duran once again playing the melody as straight as an arrow while Holloway comes back with the kinds of electric piano riffs you only hear in those previously smoke-filled jazz clubs.

The aria from Cantata No. 30 starts off like a ride in a swing at the park but soon soars over town like a hot-air balloon. Duran's octave leap on the closing bars is a true high point of the disc.

What do you do when you have only one violin but you're playing a movement from the "Double" Violin Concerto? You have Elena play one violin part on her flute while Stephane rocks on his violin and Laurie rolls on his keyboards. Yes, it's been done on classical recordings before but never like this.

The Gigue in B flat major gives the listener and the performers a chance to cool down with a stretch. Once more, one notes Duran's careful note-for-note playing contrasted by Grappelli's sonic leaps and bounds.

The other must-record piece is "Wauchet Auf". Grappelli's improvisation dances around Duran's presentation of the melody. Then, Stephane takes center stage and challenges Laurie to a violin versus electric piano showdown at twenty paces. Who wins? Does it matter?

The Sicilienne from the Sonata for harpsichord and flute exudes an air of mystery and lulls the listener into a sort of calm before a musical storm of Bayou hurricane proportions.

That storm arrives when the trio gets down on "Brandenburg Boogie", modeled after the first movement of the second Brandenburg Concerto. In its original form, the piece was once described as "Dixieland Baroque," all the more fitting for this performance. Grappelli and Holloway provide the most raucous moments while Duran's flute keeps order. Everything culminates in a sort of musical "Oh, yeah!" that leaves the listener both invigorated and out of breath.

Biography

Genre: Classical

Years Active: '80s, '90s

Mexican-American flautist Elena Duran is one of the world's top instrumentalists. A native of Oakland, California and based In London, England, Duran has been involved with a variety of recording projects. She's performed on albums by Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra, Bournemouth Sinfoniette, Moscow Virtuosi, and Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional de Mexico, two albums by late French jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli -- Brandenburg Boogie and Bach to the Beatles, and an animated video,...
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Bach to the Beatles, Elena Duran
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