Cellist Matt Haimovitz harnesses his eight-piece ensemble of "cello warriors" (San Jose Mercury News), Uccello, for a new program of jazz classics in original arrangements by Rome Prize-winning composer David Sanford. The cellos wail, slide, and swing in an all-new big band sound - joined by guitar legend John McLaughlin, jazz drummer Matt Wilson and Jan Jarczyck on keyboards - in works by Ornette Coleman, Charles Mingus, John McLaughlin (Mahavishnu), Miles Davis, Billy Strayhorn and other jazz greats.
Sanford and Haimovitz's adventurous collaborations include the cellist's acclaimed Anthem and Odd Couple recordings on Oxingale Records but began with the groundbreaking Buck the Concerto series: "When I first heard David's big band music, I had to join in," says Haimovitz, "the result was Scherzo Grosso, a concerto for cello and 20-piece big-band. For Meeting of the Spirits, David had carte blanche to choose and arrange a big-band program for cello ensemble; his acute ear and innate sense of rhythmic electricity has given us a new sound and fresh take on some jazz classics. Many moments stand out, like the Bach-like four-part fugue in Blues in A Minor (1973) -- for only 2 celli! -- or the hauntingly beautiful slow glissandos of Blood Count (1967). John McLaughlin has been a friend for years and I am particularly thrilled to have two adaptations of his classics, Meeting of the Spirits and Open Country Joy where he joins us in a masterful solo, almost 40 years after the song's original release."
Additional highlights on the new recording include W.R.U. (1961) by Ornette Coleman featuring the inspired Matt Wilson on percussion; George Gershwin's Liza (original, 1929), taking musical influences from Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli; Charles Mingus' Haitian Fight Song (1957), drawn from the 1963 version for a larger ensemble; Miles Davis' 1948 bebop composition Half Nelson, re-cast as in the style of his 1949 debut as a leader in the Birth of the Cool sessions; and Triptych, an original piece by Sanford for Haimovitz and Uccello. Recorded at McGill University in Montreal and at the legendary Stadium Red in Harlem, NY, Meeting of the Spirits is produced by multi-Grammy Award winner David Frost.