CHICAGO SINFONIETTA WITH ORBERT DAVIS
Classical composers have raided jazz for inspiration for generations, even as innovative scores by the likes of Duke Ellington and Miles Davis have been largely overlooked in snobbish classical circles–where to be “serious,” music has to be written by pedigreed composers, premiered in established orchestral venues, and performed by conservatory graduates. But some jazz musicians still feel compelled to tackle classical forms, and local trumpeter Orbert Davis is the latest: his brand-new Concerto for Jazz Quartet and Orchestra will be given its world premiere this week by the Chicago Sinfonietta. It’s a 15-minute showcase for his mellifluous, even-toned playing and fluent ornamentation–though the quartet’s pianist, bassist, and drummer each enjoy brief moments in the spotlight. The constant interplay between the core ensemble and the larger orchestra reminds me of the concerto grosso form, as does the piece’s casual pageantry. Davis has flirted with this kind of genre hopping before, with Sketches of Miles, but he calls the concerto–which employs sonata structure for two of its four movements–his first original classical composition. He’s no newcomer as a classical performer, though. While he played in Bill Russo’s Chicago Jazz Ensemble, for instance, he moonlighted with the pit orchestra for the Tribune Charities’ Nutcracker. And a couple years ago, while in grad school at Northwestern, he even conducted for a spell. Also included on the Sinfonietta’s program are Mendelssohn’s Symphony no. 3, George Walker’s Lyric for Strings, and Ravel’s Le tombeau de Couperin. Brian Groner conducts. Sunday, 2:30 PM, Dominican University, 7900 W. Division, River Forest, and Monday, 7:30 PM, Orchestra Hall, Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan; 312-857-1062. TED SHEN
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photo.