Classical music meets jazz with Brian Landrus Kaleidoscope’s Mirage (Blueland Records, 2013). This chamber jazz masterpiece consists of 12 original songs. The session blends the Kaleidoscope quintet with a string quartet.
The ensemble consist of Landrus, baritone saxophone, bass clarinet, bass flute, contra alto clarinet and bass saxophone; Nir Felder, guitar; Frank Carlberg, Rhodes and piano; Lonnie Plaxico, acoustic and electric bass; Rudy Royston, drums; Mark Feldman, violin; Joyce Hermann, violin; Judith Insell, viola; Jody Redhage, cello; and Ryan Truesdell, conductor.
“Don’t Close Your Eyes” has a pop ballad vibe with Landrus and Felder combining for the lead. Royston mostly just keeps time, but emphasizes key points with splashes and crashes of the cymbals. After Carlberg’s Rhodes solo, Landrus stretches out with the baritone sax.
Apart from the chamber jazz mood of the overall project, one thing that sets Mirage apart from other jazz recordings is the presence of wind instruments not normally heard outside of orchestras and symphonic bands. The baritone sax and bass clarinet are fairly common, but Landrus’ other instruments are rarely used outside of classical music.
Landrus recently began touring with Grammy-winning bassist, vocalist and composer Esperanza Spalding. He credits Bob Brookmeyer with inspiring him to tackle writing for jazz ensemble and strings. After his mentor’s death in 2011, Landrus explored some of his orchestral writing. Of Mirage, Landrus says he wanted to play music where the strings are important and not just for background.