“LANDSCAPES TAKES YOU ON AN ORCHESTRAL JAZZ JOURNEY”
Orchestral jazz with saxophone improvisations, Landscapes takes you on a sonic travelogue around the world. Composed and arranged by Grammy® award nominee Frank Macchia, the music is performed by the Prague Orchestra and conducted by Adam Klemens.
The CD focuses on an original six movement suite for orchestra and sax called “The Landscapes Suite” that features imaginary destinations across the globe. Other music on the CD includes modern arrangements of folk songs such as “The Sidewalks of New York”, “Shenandoah”, “Deep River”, “Down In The Valley” and “Way Down Yonder in New Orleans”. Landscapes is the follow up to the critically acclaimed Emotions CD, which received a Blue Chip Award by noted jazz journalist Dr. Herb Wong.
Macchia has worked with Van Dyke Parks, Ella Fitzgerald, Brian Wilson, Clare Fisher, Yes, and the Tonight Show Band; composed and orchestrated on numerous films and television shows. He was the recipient of a National Endowment Grant for Jazz Arts and was a Sundance Labs Composer Fellow in 2004.
All About Jazz.com review of Landscapes
by Edward Blanco
A follow-up to composer/arranger/saxophonist Frank Macchia's critically acclaimed Emotions (Cacophony, 2006), which received a Grammy nomination for Best Arrangement (Black Is The Color Of My True Love's Hair), Landscapes is the second part of an extended session of symphonic music cleverly diced with strong jazzy overtones. As with the first album, Macchia employs the string-laden Prague Orchestra, under the direction of Adam Klemens, to provide lush arrangements that feature the soft tenor saxophone voice without a conventional rhythm section.
Spending the last fifteen years in Los Angeles orchestrating and composing for movies, and specifically writing for strings, woodwinds and harps in place of the standard piano rhythm section, Macchia utilizes those skills on this concept recording. On Landscapes the saxophonist pens his version of six folk songs and standards around the six-part centerpiece of the album, "Landscape Suite—for Saxophone & Orchestra", that feature solid tenor solos fronting a string symphony.
The music takes off with a re-harmonized and string-heavy rendition of "The Sidewalks Of New York", followed by the softer "Shenandoah" and "Down In The Valley," in which Macchia solos brilliantly. From here the music turns to the six-part suite for saxophone and orchestra, the main theme of the recording.
With titles such as "Golden Fields", "Desert Heat","Arctic Chill" and "Forest Twilight", each part of the suite is designed to convey a different feeling and emotion. Whether it's the loneliness and isolation of "Arctic Chill" or a stream-of-consciousness as is supposed to be imagined on "River Rapids", the music is meant to be thought-provoking, and not just relaxing.
Landscapes is an encore performance that continues the musical exploration Macchia began with Emotions.. Contributing innovative arrangements, Macchia wraps the jazzy sounds of the tenor saxophone with a blanket of lush orchestral music to produce a unique classical jazz project.
Frank Macchia - Landscapes - Cacophony Inc.
Published on December 28, 2007
Frank Macchia - Landscapes - Cacophony Inc. FMC512 [www.frankmacchia.net], 60:18 ***** [release date: Jan. 15, 2008]:
(Frank Macchia, tenor sax; The Prague Orchestra/Adam Klemens, cond.)
A successor to Stan Getz's "Focus"
Frank is an LA-based composer/arranger/saxist whose previous CD Emotions got a Grammy nomination earlier this year. That album for sax and strings was compared to Stan Getz’s classic Focus as well as Gil Evans and Pat Metheny. In addition to tenor sax, Macchia also is heard on bass flute, ethnic winds and synthesizers. He has composed and orchestrated many film and TV shows, and has worked with Van Dyke Parks, Ella Fitzgerald, Brian Wilson and Clare Fisher.
At the center of this dozen-track album is Macchia’s Landscapes Suite for sax and orchestra, consisting of six picturesque movements. Each one strives to create a different mental picture in keeping with its title. River Rapids, for example, depicts with strong forward thrust thru all 12 keys the churning, white water rapids. Three traditional tunes are given the Macchia treatment in the album. His arrangement of Shenandoah - long one of my personal favorite folk tunes - is one of the most satisfying I have every heard. Down in the Valley and Deep River receive similar highly individual treatments. The musician’s idea of combining these traditional folk songs with orchestra plus improvisation is a fresh and most enjoyable effort. Since Getz’s Focus is my favorite all-around jazz album, Landscapes will surely get a lot of playing in future.
TrackList: The Sidewalks of New York; Shenandoah, Down in the Valley, Landscapes Suite: Golden Field, Desert Heat, River Rapids, Arctic Chill, Jungle Life, Forest Twilight; Deep River; Avalon; Way Down Yonder in New Orleans.
- John Henry
Landscapes review on JAZZREVIEW.COM
reviewed Feb. 16, 2008
Review by Thomas R. Erdmann
Sometimes jazz is exciting and vibrant, sometimes it’s slow and lyric, but rarely can one say it transcends even the most beautiful aural images one can imagine; that, however, is exactly what Frank Macchia has created with Landscapes.
Multi-woodwindist, composer and arranger Macchia has written for Mike Vax’s Big Band and the San Francisco Symphony, among others. He has taught at the Berklee College of Music and received a commission from the National Endowment Grant for the Arts. His performing credits include work with Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, Chuck Mangione, George Russell, Eric Marienthal and The Temptations, to list a few. As a Hollywood orchestrator he has worked on movie and television scores including Superman Returns, X2 - Xmen United, Austin Powers: Goldmember, Santa Clause 2, The Tonight Show and too many more to list.
Performing solely on tenor sax on this disc, Macchia teams up with The Prague Orchestra to record a collection of original compositions and folksong settings for solo sax and orchestra all arranged by the soloist. Without the aid, or crutch, of a rhythm section to help propel the music along, Macchia’s arrangements and strong powerfully intense saxophone are required to give the music drive and impetus. In both cases he succeeds splendidly.
His treatments of “Down In The Valley” and “Shenandoah” are superb. The orchestra drifts along in flowing ebbs and waves of subtle color shifts. It’s easy to understand why he is so in demand in Hollywood; his knowledge of instruments and their tumbrel possibilities is superb. Always finding the right color to paint the emotion he seeks, the placement of his strong saxophone in front of the ensemble becomes just another hue in service of the end result.
As a soloist Macchia has something so lacking in many of today’s artists, taste. “On Desert Heat” his lines find motivic connections as they dance in front of the odd-metered backdrop, and on “The Sidewalks Of New York” his saxophone takes this oft-neglected tune and turns it into the standard it should always have been.
Special mention must be made regarding “Arctic Chill.” Incorporating atonal sonorities into the opening and closing passages does more than provide the appropriate emotive sensation, it provides a launching pad for the best musical statement of the disc.
While there’s a bit of sameness to the sound as the disc progresses, it doesn’t get in the way of some excellent and timeless music.