Paul Green,
Music Coming Together
(Centaur, 2016)

Paul Green has been a noted classical clarinetist for more than 20 years. Now he's starting a side career as a jazz musician. Not just any jazz musician, though; Green is adventurous and restless, searching for something new and different, something that reflects his roots as a person and as a musician. "This album is my attempt to connect with my roots, to find my own musical soul," he says. "But jazz is in my soul too. This album is an attempt to connect the two different worlds."

The world in question are jazz and klezmer. Klezmer, which comes from Eastern Europe, originally consisted of traditional dances created for ceremonies, such as weddings. When the Jewish immigrants came to America, they brought klezmer with them, and here in this country, it took on jazz rhythms. Green sees possibilities for more than the rhythms being imported into klezmer. He wants jazz techniques, changes, chords and scales to be used, also. The result is fascinating.

Let me single out "My Funny Jewish Valentine" here. A jazz standard, it has been recorded by more than 600 different musicians, and the Gerry Mulligan-Chet Baker version has been inducted into the Library of Congress's National Song Registry. Paul Green's version follows the chord changes of the original versions and the solos follow the notes of the melody. However, instead of the traditional minor scales the song is usually played in, Green uses Jewish klezmer scales. The result is the comfort of the traditional mashed up with the challenge of the slightly different, making us hear a familiar tune anew and differently. It is simply brilliant.

Green's band also does songs by Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter and Cab Calloway in klezmer-jazz fusion.

I am aware that describing this music makes it sound weird and offbeat and hard to get a handle on, like a baked potato just out of the oven that you're not sure is done or not. However, playing Music Coming Together is like cutting open the potato; it's the only way to discover exactly how good it is.

music review by
Michael Scott Cain

23 April 2016

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