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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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VALENTIN RADUTIU /
BENJAMIN SCHAEFER /
MARCUS RIECK

Remembering The Rain -
A Jazz view

HÄNSSLER CLASSIC
CD 93.331

 

 

1.Interplay (Bill Evans)

2.Languir Me fais (Georges Enescu)

3.Smoke Gets In Your Eyes (Jerome Kern)

4.Cry Me A River (Arthur Hamilton)

5.Inerlude (Valentin Radutiu/Marcus Rieck

6.Almería (Benjamin Schaefer)

7.Turn Out The Stars (Bill Evans)

Romanian Folk Dances (Béla Bartók)

8.Der Stampfer – Pe loc

9.Molto moderato

10.Django (John Lewis)

11.Remembering The Rain (Bill Evans)

12.Autumn Serenade (Peter de Rose/John Coltrane)

13.Laurie (Bill Evans)


Valentin Radutiu (cello), Benjamin Schaefer (piano), Marcus Rieck (drums)

rec. Südwestrundfunk, SWR Studio Kaiserslautern, Germany 19-22 May, 2014 [67:09]


Hearing the cello in jazz is rare but after you’ve heard this disc you may very well wonder why and with justification. On this record it’s like listening to Stephane Grapelli with a much lower sounding violin but is so very soulful and expressive since it is mostly bowed though when plucking is called for it can pretty much match the bass. Cellist Valentin Radutiu admits to jazz being a secret passion, secret because he’s never performed jazz in public; he’ll find it much more difficult to resist doing so after this CD’s release.

Apart from two originals everything here could be classed as a standard (with three other exceptions: one piece by Georges Enescu and two short pieces by Bartók) and include four Bill Evans compositions. The Bill Evans numbers simply confirm his unique talent for writing a good tune and kicking off the disc with his Interplay is a great intro and in a way sets out the disc’s ‘stall’.

The tempo of each piece allows Radutiu to showcase his undoubted talents in jazz and enabling the listener to imagine how good he must sound in classical repertoire. I see that two of his classical discs are advertised on the back of the booklet and I shall certainly be seeking them out.

Staying with the ‘classical’ theme for a moment Enescu’s Languir Me fais makes for a brilliant transformation into the realm of jazz without any attempt at distortion but just going with the music’s natural flow. The booklet writer put it thus: “Jazz? Not really. Art song? Not by a long shot. Classical? Not a solution capable of describing a type of music which itself is not interested in the classification of artistic content.” So what it is then and does it matter? There are times when too close an analysis gets in the way of the music and I say just listen to it without any attempt to pigeonhole it for as Valentin Radutiu says “For me, sound is the goddess above all others”. What it certainly is is an introspective piece of great beauty and that’s all you need to know.

One thing I found especially impressive about this record is that the trio decided that some tunes present themselves better played as a duo so Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, Cry Me A River, Almería, Django and Laurie are played only by cello and piano while Interlude is a cello and drums only number. At first I found both Smoke Gets In Your Eyes and Cry Me A River rather too slow for my taste but their treatment has grown on me and is right for the balance between the two players and on reflection the original pace of these two songs is not that fast anyway. What is quite amazing is how infectious these two pieces still are considering their age (Jerome Kern wrote his song in 1934 while Arthur Hamilton penned his back in 1953!). They are timeless as well as totally satisfying.

The two originals are extremely good and the cello & drums piece Interlude is quite beautiful with its Eastern influence and is noted as being an improvisation while Almería is also a really lovely piece that shows off Benjamin Schaefer’s compositional talents very effectively as well as his considerable pianistic abilities. Bill Evan’s Turn Out The Stars is further confirmation of his genius while the two jazz takes on Bartók’s short piano pieces work wonderfully well with their intriguing and quirky Romanian folk influence. Django was one of the first of the MJQ’s tracks I ever heard and I well remember the effect it had on me at the time and I must say it still does and John Lewis was always such an innovative musician as well as a brilliant jazz pianist.

The album’s title piece Remembering The Rain is another of Bill Evans deliciously gentle tunes that is perfectly suited to this trio’s treatment and the cello makes a poignantly beautiful statement of the main theme before the piano takes over to take it further. Time to mention how wonderfully discreet drummer Marcus Rieck can be when required and his caressing of the cymbals in this number perfectly illustrates that point. When the cello returns it is bowed at its highest register for a truly beautiful finish.

Autumn Serenade remains faithful to the original with the cello taking the vocal line and jumping off to improvise followed by the piano as did John Coltrane on the disc when Johnny Hartman wasn’t singing. The disc closes with the final Bill Evans tune Laurie with cello and piano alone once more making for a beautiful end to a really tuneful disc and a desire to hear more of what a cello can do in jazz for these pieces show how much soul this instrument can inject into the simplest tunes. To create late night atmosphere at home or in a club you need not look further than this and it is heartily recommended.

Steve Arloff



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