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.
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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.
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 Orland Junior High School student. As contest winner, Jaylyn was awarded a cash prize and will receive royalties on the sale of all related merchandise like posters, mugs and t-shirts. The multi-talented Jaylyn is also a student in the CJP Summer Jazz Academy where she studies the saxophone.