For over twenty years Michael Rabinowitz has been on the cutting edge as a versatile bassoonist. His broad musical experience makes him as comfortable with Bach and Mozart as he is with Charlie Parker and John Coltrane.
He has recorded with Ira Sullivan, Red Rodney, Wynton Marsalis, John Hicks, Dave Douglas and Joe Lovano. His festival appearances include Chicago, Montreal, Berlin, Tri-city, San Francisco and Hollywood Bowl. Michael is a regular member of The Charles Mingus Orchestra in NYC and recently toured Europe with this ensemble. The personnel in his quartet Bassoon and the Wild heard on this CD has remained the same for the past 4 years and has performed at the The Vanderbilt Planetarium, Frick Museum, JVC Jazz Festival, Penn State, Kavehaz and other venues in NYC.
Ocean Eyes is Michael's 5th CD and documents the development of his quartet Bassoon in the Wild with mostly original compositions. The Music Group (Schreiber Bassoons) has been Michael's sponsor for the past two years and continues to support his efforts in participation in Bassoon Master Classes; most recently in an appearance at Bassoon Day in Indianapolis combined with a performance at The Jazz Kitchen.
Review from L.A. Jazz Scene June '04
BASSOON IN THE WILD
The vibraphone, acoustic bass and light drum foundation give this delicate ensemble a distinctive touch that resembles the Modern Jazz Quartet. Here, however, the group's lead voice is a deep, perky instrument that usually remains in the background: the bassoon. Michael Rabinowitz places this unique instrument, one usually found only in an orchestra context, into a modern jazz setting, quick and fluid, he marries bassoon melodies with the vibraphone's distinctive harmonic timbres for a mellow outing. The quartet swings too.
Vibraphonist Diana Herold, bassist Joe Fonda and Drummer Grisha Alexiev support Rabinowitz with a natural approach. "FMB" in particular , places the quartet in a charged straight- ahead alliance with swing. The leader's bassoon punctuates with machine-gun like intensity. Elsewhere, as his ballad "For Meryl," Rabinowitz shines with a vocal-like presence. "Ocean Eyes" moves with a lilting, bolero rhythm through exotic worlds. The bassoon just can't help being exotic. The leader's composition, however, takes the listener, suite-like, on tour of various places.
Rabinowitz, 48, has worked in New York with avant- garde ensembles and with several larger mainstream jazz orchestras. With his quartet, he's tuned into straight- ahead jazz. The bassoon is , by nature, mellow and smooth. In Michael Rabinowitz's hands, however, the instrument serves up improvised adventures with interest.
- Jim Santella