MusicWeb International Reviews Gunther Schuller: Journey Into Jazz

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MusicWeb International
Don Mather
February 1, 2009

The Variants for Jazz Quartet and Orchestra prove the point that jazz and straight music don't mix!

The Journey Into Jazz is different. It is an interesting story of a young musician’s introduction to jazz and there is some good playing from all concerned. The story line is intriguing; Gunther Schuller is an excellent narrator. This part of the record I really enjoyed: the tenor playing of Jason Hunter is first rate, the rhythm section swings and the music throughout is excellent. David Ballou who plays the part of the young trumpeter performs with some style in the latter part of the record, when he has finally made it! Everyone who aspires be a jazz musician should hear the story!

Tracks 9 to 11 are in some ways similar to the first 7 tracks, but for some reason they seem to work. There are a lot fewer weird sounds and the composer has not forgotten that jazz should swing. There is some fine vibes playing from the jazz quartet, and the quartet is not swamped by the orchestra.

I started off disliking the first few tracks of this record, but found tracks 8 to 11 - which build to a great climax - very interesting and, for me, much more enjoyable. Gunther Schuller is to be congratulated on his Journey Into Jazz piece, which is very perceptive and captivating.

— Don Mather

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