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A Treasure Trove of Goodness

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Wednesday October 10, 2018

Columbia Daily Tribune

Notes and Tones: New collaborations, classic lineups shine
By: Jon W. Poses

The phrase “an embarrassment of riches” comes to mind — or simply a treasure trove of goodness. That’s how I feel, given the selection of recordings that have made their way over the transom during the past couple weeks.

Ben Wendel, “The Seasons” (Motéma)
In 2015, Wendel — who plays saxophones, bassoon and other reeds — was inspired by a set of 12 Tchaikovsky compositions, each representing a month in 1876, and decided to “do a modern take on it.” Tchaikovsky’s pieces were published in a magazine. Wendel released “The Seasons,” a set of duos with many different players, on his YouTube channel. Never issued as a recording, the composite set of 12 pieces received high praise and finished near the top of a number of album polls. Fast forward to 2018. Wendel revisited his “months,” put together a quintet comprised of some of the people featured in the duets, and performed the material at the Village Vanguard. Pianist Aaron Parks, guitarist Gilad Hekselman, bassist Matt Brewer and drummer Eric Harland joined Wendel for a studio recording. “The Seasons” consists of a series of well-designed and-executed, modern, somewhat adventuresome interplay between some of today’s most talented musicians.

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