|The Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, celebrating its upcoming tenth anniversary year, releases its second full-length album, Sketches Of Spain [Revisited], an orchestral transformation of the 1960 iconic original by Miles Davis and Gil Evans.For this reinterpretation of the 1960 classic recording, CJP artistic director and composer Orbert Davis created two new compositions, incorporated traditional African and Middle Eastern instruments, and made numerous modifications in ensemble orchestration. The result is an intimate yet powerful performance that transports the listener to a different world.
“If you’re going to reconceptualize a work as iconic as Sketches Of Spain – daring to change the original instrumentation, and even to replace some movements with new compositions – you’d better do one spectacular job of it. Orbert Davis has dared, and succeeded.” Neil Tesser, Grammy-Award Winning Jazz Journalist
Davis’ involvement with Sketches Of Spain began in the 1990’s when, as a trumpeter in Bill Russo’s Chicago Jazz Ensemble, he was asked to perform the solo trumpet part originally played by Miles Davis (no relation). A particular challenge was to disregard the expectations of some purists that the original performance would be re-created. “However,” Orbert notes, “What Miles played is not intended to be duplicated. Miles reached past the technical aspects of his instrument and played from the depths of his soul. I took that approach to freely create during the improvised sections.”
Orbert Davis’ version of the classic work developed over many subsequent performances and years of studying the original recording, as well as Spanish music and culture. From the first performance with his own Chicago Jazz Philharmonic in 2011, Orbert introduced new elements to reflect the Moorish influences on Spanish culture, introduces new infectious jazz grooves, and highlights the unique talents of individual musicians in his ensemble.
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“One has to think that Miles Davis would have been intrigued, given his own history of ignoring rules and continuously reinventing his music.” Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune
Working together, the musicians have created a sound based on Spanish culture that is a blend of classical aesthetic and jazz sensibility, revealing an emotional depth that is universally recognizable. “I hope that the listener will be able to identify with the passion and emotion expressed in this work”, says Davis. “There is a story behind the music, and each person needs to interpret that story for themselves.”
The theme of creatively reinterpreting a classic is carried out on the album’s cover, which features original artwork created as part of a CD Cover Art Contest held by CJP in the spring of 2014. The contest required Chicago area students to interpret different visual aspects of Spanish culture: a matador, a flamenco dancer, and a mountain village scene. The winning entry was submitted by Jaylyn Scott, a 14-year-old student at Orland Junior High School. As the contest winner, Jaylyn earned a prize fee and will receive royalties on the sale of all related merchandise like posters, mugs or t-shirts. The multi-talented Jaylyn is also a student in the CJP Summer Jazz Academy where she studies the saxophone.
Orbert Davis is co-founder, conductor and Artistic Director of Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, a 55+ piece jazz-symphonic orchestra and a 16-piece chamber group dedicated to multi-genre projects. He is also the co-founder of “Jazz Alive,” an interdisciplinary enrichment program that focuses on teaching life and academic skills through music, currently providing weekly music and band instruction to hundreds of Chicago Public School students.
One of Chicago’s busiest and most sought after musicians, Davis was commissioned in 2012 to create a new work for Chicago Symphony Center’s city-wide “Rivers Festival.” He was named Artist-In-Residence for the Chicago Jazz Festival in 2011, an honor held by only one other Chicagoan in its history. In that same year Davis won an Emmy Award for the composition and production of an original score for the national PBS documentary, DuSable to Obama: Chicago’s Black Metropolis. In 2010 he received the “Arts Legend Award” from the Arts Alliance Illinois, a statewide arts advocacy group, recognizing his mission-based accomplishments in both performance and education.
Davis has a Bachelor’s degree in trumpet performance from DePaul University and a Masters degree in Jazz Pedagogy from Northwestern University.
Chicago Jazz Philharmonic
Founded in 2004 by Orbert Davis and Mark Ingram as America’s definitive “Third Stream” orchestra, Chicago Jazz Philharmonic provides rich, accessible, multi-cultural music experiences that bridge gaps in jazz and classical genres. The CJP performs works from the standard jazz big band to the classical symphony, while creating a “new aesthetic” in cross-genre collaborations. The organization also provides music education through Jazz Alive, a weekly music and band education program for Chicago Public School students, and the Summer Jazz Academy, a two-week immersion program in music theory and practice.
The Chicago Jazz Philharmonic will celebrate its tenth anniversary season with a series of concerts and special events beginning in September 2014.
Support for the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic comes from The Chicago Community Trust, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, Polk Bros. Foundation, Crown Family Philanthropies, The Joyce Foundation, Illinois Arts Council, Seabury Foundation, Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, City Arts Grants, WDCB 90.9FM and Chicago Jazz Magazine.
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