July 2005

Carlos Franzetti - The Jazz Kamerata
Chesky SACD287
Format: Hybrid multichannel SACD
Released: 2005

by Eric Hetherington

Musical Performance ***
Recording Quality ***1/2
Overall Enjoyment ***

The Miles Davis/Gil Evans collaborations of the late '50s set the bar high for successful jazz/classical crossover records. To be a success, jazz/classical crossovers have to take into account who is playing what. Asking classical musicians to improvise or jazz players to stick to the score is not good for the musicians or the audience. Carlos Franzetti deals with this key problem by having his classical musicians, on flute, clarinet, violins, viola and cello, stick to the written score, while the jazz musicians in the ensemble are allowed freer reign to improvise on Franzetti’s arrangements of greater and lesser jazz standards.

The songs, such as Miles Davis’s "Circle" and Wayne Shorter’s "Nefertiti", are taken at a slow and methodical pace, the strings add a touch of melancholy, and the overall mood of the album is somber. A good record for late-night listening, but don’t expect it to get you up and moving in the morning. It is a recording that is successful when met on its own terms: It is a true jazz/classical hybrid and must be accepted as such. The stars here are Lawrence Feldman, who brings life and beauty to the three saxophones he plays, and Franzetti, whose piano playing seems to fit right into the arrangements.

The disc is available as both a standard CD and as a hybrid SACD. The recording shows the usual care that one expects from Chesky; it has natural sound, believable soundstaging and presents a deep, three-dimensional illusion. The multichannel mix adds subtle dimension and brings you into the musicians’ presence. Those with a multichannel system should opt for the SACD.