An ambitious project that has been fully realized, producing music with an abundance of delights.

OUR Recordings 8 226918

Jakob Buchanan (flugelhorn); Marilyn Mazur (percussion); Copenhagen Royal Chapel Choir;
Aarhus Jazz Orchestra; Carsten Seyer-Hansen (conductor)

This is flugel player and composer Jakob Buchanan’s fourth orchestral work written especially for the Aarhus Jazz Orchestra, and the results are stunning. Buchanan and conductor Carsten Seyer-Hansen have worked together on the composer’s previous commissions, yet Song & Wind is his most ambitious work to date.

The idea to bring in the Copenhagen Royal Chapel Choir is an inspired one. If the resulting music crosses stylistic boundaries with carefree abandon, it is done with great poise, elegance, and restraint.

Taking inspiration from the words of the South African poet Iain S. Thomas, the music and text sung by the choir have a solemnity that prohibits pyrotechnics, bravura statements, and even swing. But within the boundaries that Buchanan has set for himself, the music seamlessly combines idioms to produce profoundly beautiful music.

The text that the choir sings with such precision and purity, Buchanan says, is “about longing, doubt, and loss. About pain, time, and eternity.” Within this framework, the music has a dynamic leaning that is often dramatic, and the textures that Buchanan has conjured up within the score are refreshingly original.

Guest soloist Marilyn Mazur plays a significant part in this fascinating texture as she brings her timeless sense of rhythm and sound, incorporating various percussion instruments, be they cymbals, drums, hand percussion, bells, or even the mighty gongs that introduce the album’s first movement, ‘Prelude,’ into the fabric of the music.

Embedded in the music is Buchanan himself as the main soloist, along with Mazur. His flugelhorn is heard in well-paced solo statements that appear throughout the suite, with his burnished sound emerging from the ensemble.

There are solos for the orchestra that also appear within the score, including a particularly fine alto saxophone solo from Pernille Bévort on Part IV, ‘You Have Only Seen How I Begin.’ However, it is the combined work of the principal soloists that captivates the ear. Jakob Buchanan’s opening flugel statement on Part IV is sublime, as is the introduction with Mazur to Part V, ‘Rain Falls,’ and it is wonderful to hear how these moments are crafted within the whole.

An ambitious project that has been fully realized, producing music with an abundance of delights.