Album Review: Frankenstein from Wayne Alpern
Artist: Wayne Alpern
Label: Henri Elkan Music
Frankenstein, the new CD from composer Wayne Alpern is a compilation of jazz standards and classic pop tunes interpreted with contemporary trimmings. Solo excursions are performed by Mike Davis and Boscarino on trombones, Tatum Greenblatt and Brad Mason on trumpets, and David Mann on reeds. Filling out the melodic passages is the ambling stride of guitarist Kevin Ramessar, the sauntering gait of keyboardist Andy Ezrin, and rhythmic pulse of bassist John Patitucci and drummer Clint DeGanon.
Alpern’s vision for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “All I Ask of You,” from the musical Phantom of the Opera, engenders the horns with an elevating slant that uplifts the listener and bolsters a serene vista. Alpern has a melodic acuity that positively affects listeners with his interpretation of this classic score. The recording fastens a swing jazz propulsion on “More Than Yesterday,” a 1969 pop hit penned by Spiral Starecase. The thrusting toots of the horns jut out, blazing spheres of fire across the chord progressions, stirring life into the listening experience for the audience.
Alpern puts jazz springs on the chassis of “Gimme Some Lovin’.” His reimagination of Steve Winwood’s hit song injects waves that surge and smoothen along the repetitive motifs, creating a lively atmosphere. The recording slows to a strolling stride through Stephen Sondheim’s memorable tune “Send In The Clowns.” The soft twists of the horns are spiraled into the brushed strokes of DeGannon’s drums and John Patitucci’s buoyant bass. Andy Ezrin’s keys embellish the arrangement with budding sprigs, giving the melody greater dimension. Every component in the score is harmoniously integrated, carving a niche for each performer.
Alpern’s recording shares a handful of attributes with the Frankenstein character from Mary Shelley’s Gothic novel in that both stir life and movement into bodies previously constructed. Like the novel, Alpern’s reconstructed scores express a regenerative quality that breathes a contemporary voice into nostalgic tunes.
Wayne Alpern – arranger and bandleader
David Mann – reeds
John Patitucci – bass
Clint DeGanon – drums
Andy Ezrin – keyboards
Tatum Greenblatt – trumpet
Brad Mason – trumpet
Mike Boscarino – trombone
Mike Davis – trombone
Kevin Ramessar – guitar