Chuck Berry recorded “Roll Over Beethoven,” he sent a message to the
stiff-shirted program directors who had decided that classical music was
the only popular music to be played on radio.
The thing about classical that made some artists restless was that the
popular compositions were often played the same way. In contrast, jazz
musicians loved to take a popular song and change things around.
With Changing Seasons (Alma Records, 2012), the Phil Dwyer
Orchestra sends a different message: Classical doesn’t always have to
sound the same any more than jazz always has to be improvisational.
Inspired by Coltrane and Vivaldi, Dwyer integrates a 21-piece string
section with a 13-piece horn section, seamlessly moving within and between
the worlds of symphonic music and jazz.
The four tracks are aptly titled “Spring,” “Summer,” “Autumn” and
“Winter.” They represent the latest collaboration between Dwyer and violin
soloist Mark Fewer. The string arrangements are reminiscent of early 20th
century classical, such as compositions by Aaron Copland and his peers.
The brass and woodwinds move back and forth between giving the orchestra
depth and stepping out for some big band style. Dwyer joins the orchestra
with additional piano on “Spring” and the tenor sax solo on “Summer.”
Trumpeter Ingrid Jensen is featured on “Winter.”
Augmenting the package is cover art that features a country road with
threatening, ground-level clouds in the background. On the rear, the image
of a tornado is superimposed with a close-up of sheet music.
Dwyer is a multiple Juno award winner (Canada’s Grammy equivalent) and has
performed with such artists as Kenny Wheeler, Renee Rosnes and Gino