I don't have much of an ear for Jazz, but this I really like. So, given that to say 'I like this' is verging on a unique circumstance when it comes to Jazz and me, I thought it would be an opportunity to think about why I enjoy this album whereas most Jazz just leaves me cold.
And after due consideration, I can assert that it's due to a range of factors that are manifest on this album, factors that meet my expectations about music, which I find to be largely absent from the Jazz idiom as a whole.
Firstly, unlike many Jazz compositions, the tracks here aren't interminably long. The whole album clocks in at a very tidy 35 minutes, and given that the last track "Reprise" is just a rather pointless condensed medley of what preceded it, and as such is entirely dispensable, the album is a mere 30 minutes or so in length.
That's fine - I'd rather have a short album of superior music than lots of filler burying all the good stuff. Such economy ensures too that the self-indulgent flabby meanderings characteristic of much Jazz are of necessity absent.
Next, this album is based on a set of properly-developed compositions from the musical West Side Story
, lending it some real musicality - inevitably inherited from the source material. As it happens, I don't especially like West Side Story
, but by using it as a 'scaffolding' on which to construct a jazzy interpretation, a sense of the original melodies is retained.
Such 'proper' melodies, even if only the hint of a melody - as is sometimes the case here - is all that's needed to make a huge difference to listener satisfaction. But even feint melodies are something that I find to be largely absent from most Jazz.
by Reviewer: bluemoon