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14. Oktober 2016

Jazz meets avant-garde

von Philharmonie Luxemburg

Do you ever stumble upon a blog post or press article only to hear about the same topic over and over again in the following days? This piece of information that had never crossed your mind is now seemingly everywhere, turning into a motif of your everyday life. That's what's happened with Stravinsky this week.

It started with this: an article on Open Culture about The Night When Charlie Parker Played for Igor Stravinsky. The piece quotes from Alfred Appel's book, Jazz Modernism: From Ellington and Armstrong to Matisse and Joyce and tells the story so vividly you can picture it with your eyes closed.

«As Parker’s quintet walked onto the bandstand, trumpeter Red Rodney recognized Stravinsky, front and almost center. Rodney leaned over and told Parker, who did not look at Stravinsky. Parker immediately called the first number for his band, and, forgoing the customary greeting to the crowd, was off like a shot. (...) They were playing “KoKo,” which, because of its epochal breakneck tempo — over three hundred beats per minute on the metronome — Parker never assayed before his second set, when he was sufficiently warmed up. Parker’s phrases were flying as fluently as ever on this particular daunting “Koko.” At the beginning of his second chorus he interpolated the opening of Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite as though it had always been there, a perfect fit, and then sailed on with the rest of the number. Stravinsky roared with delight, pounding his glass on the table, the upward arc of the glass sending its liquor and ice cubes onto the people behind him, who threw up their hands or ducked.»

Stravinsky was particularly popular with jazz fans: he had composed Ebony Concerto for Woody Herman and his Orchestra (watch the video below), one of the finest examples of genre-crossing. «Jazz musicians sat up in their seats when Stravinsky’s music started playing; he was speaking something close to their language,» as Alex Ross wrote in his book The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century (also quoted in the article).

This weekend in Brussels' BOZAR jazz musicians pay hommage to the composer with two nights themed Stravinsky Deconstructed. Stravinsky’s Ebony Concerto will be the starting point of Flat Earth Society's concert on Saturday while American guitarist Eric Hofbauer and his band Prehistoric Jazz will present a program dedicated to jazz arrangements of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring on Sunday night.

Not to mention that next week the OPL is going to perform the Sacre for the next cycle «L'heure de pointe»! See, Stravinsky is everywhere! Which isn't such a bad thing after all.


-- Julie