Chris Potter features on the release of January's Jim McNeely and the Frankfurt Big Band modernistic tribute to Stravinsky's Le Sacre du printemps – The Rite of Spring. Modernistic is here in the analytical sense that along with T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land and James Joyce's Ulysses (both 1922) the earlier Rite of Spring (1913) is also a totem of the 20th century pan-arts modernism movement that caught fire particularly in the wake of the cataclysmic first world war and saw Stravinsky's ballet and orchestral concert among the vanguard.
As for Frankfurt, UK jazz record-buying fans will know this south-west German radio station big band from Hesse for its sterling work playing electric Miles with film and TV jazz composer Colin Towns and more recently with the much-missed Phronesis on The Behemoth on arrangements of the Avishai-esque trio's songbook by the Staffordshire-born Julian Argüelles on a 2017 release.
It is the language of the 6-part new composition that inspires Rituals (to be issued by Double Moon Records on 28 January) and not a note-for-note replication of the Stravinsky piece itself as that would involve very different artistic, generic and copyright considerations. The album also includes four additional Potter pieces including two from the saxophonist's masterwork The Sirens.
The Rite of Spring has attracted in recent years a recorded treatment by The Bad Plus back in 2014. Stravinsky influenced Charlie Parker and the appeal of jazz musicians in the Russian composer's direction is not new particularly because of this. For instance nearly a decade ago the London-based Nu Civilisation Orchestra made the Parker/Firebird connection overt in a London concert .
Chicago-born pianist, composer and Grammy winning arranger McNeely in the 1970s was a featured soloist in the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra and later pianist in the Stan Getz quartet and Phil Woods quintet.