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Monday, April 4, 2016

Claude Bolling, Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano Trio, Symphonic Arrangement by Steve Barta, Hubert Laws, Jeffrey Biegel

Claude Bolling and his 1975 Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano Trio was one of those works that caught the general public imagination and has enjoyed huge success in its original recorded version featuring Jean-Pierre Rampal.  Steve Barta has given us a new Symphonic Arrangement (Steve Barta Music CD-01) with Hubert Laws on flute, Jeffrey Biegel on piano, the jazz quartet plus a string quartet and symphony orchestra.

All the reasons the work has been so popular remain--a very lyrical, tuneful outlook that manages to combine a sort of melodic jazz Dave Brubeck and Vince Guaraldi did at times plus a neo-baroque modern classical element that works remarkably well with the jazz element. Hubert Laws sounds glorious in the flute role, as does Jeffrey Biegel for the piano part. The jazz quartet swings with enough heft to convince you that indeed the jazz element is of great importance, and then Steve Barta's arrangements for string quartet and full symphony orchestra reinforce and enrich the whole in ways that keep that special interplay between flute and piano intact yet fill out the sound with richly unobtrusive, complementary accompaniment.

It is a delight for those who like me already know the work in its original version and will no doubt appeal to those unfamiliar who would nevertheless like something both jazzy and classical, lighthearted yet substantial.

This is not and never has been cutting-edge music per se. That is not the point of it. It is thematically lively and nicely inclusive of the jazz and classical domains yet straddles both in a fine balance. This new version manages to give us an even better take on it all, played with great spirit and dash, fully fleshed out with a new set of symphonic garments that adorn and enhance the beauty of the work admirably well.



  1. I agree. I have the original version (on cassette tape!) and this new version breathes new life into the pieces.

  2. Thanks! I have the old LP around here someplace. Yes, absolutely!