Archive for Wynton Marsalis

Jazz Musicians Play Classical…

Posted in Jazz, Music with tags , , , on January 30, 2014 by telescoper

I had an interesting exchange via Twitter the other day after listening to “CD Review” on BBC Radio 3. The programme included a few examples of Opera singers trying – and, in my opinion, failing – to sing like Jazz singers.

I was reminded of this discussion last night when I got home to find a lovely Clarinet sonata by Poulenc being played. It turns out that this piece was commissioned by none other than the “King of Swing”, clarinetist Benny Goodman.

I love both Jazz and Opera, but attempts to mix the two very different genres are not often successful.  Jazz and Classical music are rather like different languages and musicians are rather like poets: fully bilingual exponents who can perform their art in more than one tongue are few and far between. There are, however, notable exceptions to this rule if not among singers but among instrumentalists. I think this is largely because so many Jazz musicians are so unbelievably virtuosic on their instruments that they can play more-or-less anything they put their mind to.

Anyway, I thought I’d post a few examples of famous Jazz musicians who have proved that they can play Classical music well. Here’s the man Benny Goodman playing the Mozart Clarinet Quintet K. 581:

Wynton Marsalis playing a Haydn Trumpet Concerto:

Keith Jarrett playing the first movement of the Italian Concerto by J.S. Bach  BWV971. I would have included his version of the Goldberg Variations, but it’s on harpsichord and therefore not allowed…

I’d like to hear any further suggestions of excellent performances of Classical repertoire by Jazz musicians, so feel free to comment through the box.