Review: Three jazz-inflected world premieres by American Composers Orchestra

Posted on: April 10, 2018

“The American Composers Orchestra takes the concept of jazz-informed classical composition seriously,” writes Seth Colter Walls in Sunday’s (4/8) New York Times. “The orchestra’s Friday night show at Zankel Hall added to this legacy. More than half of the program was devoted to world premieres by composers with backgrounds in jazz … Two were by established stars: the saxophonist Steve Lehman and the pianist Ethan Iverson. Mr. Lehman’s piece, ‘Ten Threshold Studies,’ trafficked in some of the hallucinogenic mystery of the small groups he has led…. the conductor George Manahan and his orchestra realized Mr. Lehman’s interest in mystic change. ‘Concerto to Scale,’ a three-movement work by Mr. Iverson, was … studded with familiar scales and ragtime riffs that were designed to take advantage of Mr. Iverson’s vivid presence as soloist, alongside the orchestra.… During the premiere of the newly revised ‘September Coming,’ by the young saxophonist Hitomi Oba, the orchestra did not sound as successfully attuned to the composer’s sensibility…. Still, the piece advertised enough invention to recommend a repeat hearing…. Most satisfying of all was the easygoing way that the concert moved between these styles.” Also on the program were T. J. Anderson’s 1990 “Bahia, Bahia” and Clarice Assad’s 2009 “Dreamscapes.”

Posted April 10, 2018