Jazz Meets the Classics is musician and composer Alan Storeygard’s fifth recording and first classical album, his previous four releases having primarily featured jazz piano arrangements and original songs. Comprised of nine reinterpreted classical compositions, including several lengthier medley-styled pieces, the album spans over seventy-two minutes and features covers by some of the greatest classical music masters in history such as Sergei Rachmaninoff, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Frederic Chopin, Johann Sebastian Bach, and Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Alternating between solo piano and symphonic orchestration throughout, Storeygard is additionally joined on varying compositions by Brian Wolverton on bass, recording engineer Dave Rogers on drums, Danny Fletcher on guitar, and recording engineer Eric Chesher on orchestration and synthesizers.
“Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in C-Sharp Minor” offers a bold, stark opening full of dramatic, sweeping piano accompanied by cymbals and brass instruments. Initially conveying a setting of being in a large auditorium while viewing a dazzling live stage performance, the mood shifts at about the halfway point to that of a more intimate piano-bar setting that incorporates notably jazzier elements. Winding down towards the latter part of the piece with a solo piano jazz riff, the composition signs off with one last exertion of swelling neoclassical symphony. Arranged as a tone poem, “The Moldau Symphony” by Bedrich Smetana and Hector Berloiz opens with delicately twirling piano in the higher registers, which slowly descend into a more reverberating fullness. Conveyed by the expressive sound of grand piano, the piece eventually unfolds into a lovely classical jazz ensemble. The slower-paced classical number, “Beethoven’s 9th Symphony”, is given an interesting spin by being fully rendered into a jazz ensemble framework. Perfectly suited to a couple’s dance, the piece seemingly conjures images of a romantic evening spent dining at a quaint café. The nearly twelve-and-half-minute medley, “Chopin’s Ballade 1 in G Minor, Nocturne 2 in E-Flat, and Waltz 6 in D-Flat”, is perhaps my favorite composition on the album, noted by a subtle waltzing pace that is alternated with a more rubato approach, as solo piano dances up and down the registers with a graceful extravagance. The most curious inclusion on the album is perhaps “The Star-Spangled Banner”, a definitively bombastic, yet well-rendered, composition that ultimately concludes with Giacomo Puccini’s classically famous “Nessun Dorma”.
Presented in appropriately colorful and detailed gatefold packaging, Jazz Meets the Classics overall succeeds in its daunting effort to harmoniously interweave its prevailing styles of neoclassical and traditional jazz music, and will likely appeal, especially, to fans who enjoy both genres! ~Candice Michelle