Sunday, November 25, 2007

Klazz Brothers - Classic Meets Cuba

Crossover efforts are always risky ventures that dance precariously between creative and contrived. There is definitely some of the latter on this 2002 recording, but surprisingly, far more of the former as the fruitful teaming of three German classical-jazz musicians and a pair of Cuban percussionist/vocalists puts a hearty Latin-flavored spin on some very familiar classics. Two of the Klazz Brothers, pianist Tobias Forster and bassist Killian Forster, took a fortuitous trip to Cuba and concluded the popular classical pieces they usually played could easily be adapted to the Cuban- and Afro-Cuban Jazz styles. The beat-heavy results bear them out, as they developed fresh, energetic and lyrical arrangements of standard works by Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Haydn, Chopin, Schubert and others, that still respect the original compositions. The jazzed-up titles aptly (if a bit too preciously) reflect the changes - Mozart's Symphony No. 40 transforms into "Mambozart", Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 becomes "Salsa No. V", and Bizet's Carmen Suite turns into "Carmen Cubana". The high points are abundant, starting with the three movements of Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 8 "Pathétique," exciting pieces that feel culturally transformed by the sultry romanticism of the Cuban beats crowned by Tobias Forster's virtuoso playing. Also wonderful are the mournful "Czardas" and the conga-accentuated "Flight of the Bumblebee", both dominated by brother Killian's dexterous bass playing. The three others in the quintet are all equally superb musicians - Tim Hahn, the third Klazz Bother on drums, and Alexis Herrera Estevez (timbales) and Elio Rodriguez (congas), both of Cuba Percussion. The vital mix of sounds in what could have been a hopeless misfire makes for a genuinely exhilarating listening experience.

1. Mambozart 2. Cuban Dance 3. Danzon De La Trucha 4. Preludio
5. Afrolise 6. Air 7. Pathetique I 8. Pathetique II 9. Pathetique III
10. Salsa No V 11. Czardas 12. Etude 13. Carmen Cubana
14. Flight Of The Bumble Bee 15. Guten Abend 16. Anthem



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