Third Stream

Jazz music community with review and forums

Third stream is a term coined by composer Gunther Schuller to desribe music that attempts to mix jazz with classical concert hall music. Jazz caught the ear of many composers in the early 20th century and soon Ravel, Debussy, Stravinsky and others began to put elements of American ragtime into their music. French composer Darius Milhaud furthered these experiments that culminated in George Gershwin's 'Blue Monday' and 'Rhapsody in Blue', two pieces which represented some of the first truly successful fusions of jazz and concert hall music.

From the jazz side of things, early attempts at classical influence came from Duke Ellington, Artie Shaw, Woody Herman, Bix Beiderbecke, James P. Johnson and others. Gunther Schuller and John Lewis' 'Third Stream Music', which combined a string quartet with a cool jazz combo, was one of the first entirely successful concert hall pieces by a jazz composer.

In today's music world, Third Stream often refers to compositions that have some element of jazz. At JMA, the Third Stream genre is also where you will find jazz or jazz related music that relies on composition more than improvisation.

third stream top albums

Showing only albums and live's | Based on members ratings & JMA custom algorithm | 24 hours caching

TERRY RILEY In C (Members of the Center of the Creative and Performing Arts in the State University of New York at Buffalo feat. conductor & saxophone: Terry Riley) Album Cover In C (Members of the Center of the Creative and Performing Arts in the State University of New York at Buffalo feat. conductor & saxophone: Terry Riley)
TERRY RILEY
4.66 | 7 ratings
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JOHN ZORN Magick Album Cover Magick
JOHN ZORN
4.44 | 8 ratings
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LALO SCHIFRIN The Dissection and Reconstruction of Music From the Past (aka Blues for Johann Sebastian aka Marquis de Sade) Album Cover The Dissection and Reconstruction of Music From the Past (aka Blues for Johann Sebastian aka Marquis de Sade)
LALO SCHIFRIN
4.67 | 3 ratings
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BOBBY PREVITE Rhapsody / Terminals Part II : In Transit Album Cover Rhapsody / Terminals Part II : In Transit
BOBBY PREVITE
4.49 | 4 ratings
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JACQUES LOUSSIER Baroque Favorites: Jazz Improvisations Album Cover Baroque Favorites: Jazz Improvisations
JACQUES LOUSSIER
4.40 | 5 ratings
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MILES DAVIS Porgy and Bess Album Cover Porgy and Bess
MILES DAVIS
4.23 | 24 ratings
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CHARLES MINGUS Jazzical Moods, Vol. 1 Album Cover Jazzical Moods, Vol. 1
CHARLES MINGUS
4.43 | 4 ratings
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MILES DAVIS Sketches of Spain Album Cover Sketches of Spain
MILES DAVIS
4.15 | 56 ratings
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EBERHARD WEBER Silent Feet Album Cover Silent Feet
EBERHARD WEBER
4.18 | 11 ratings
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DAVE HOLLAND Life Cycle Album Cover Life Cycle
DAVE HOLLAND
4.21 | 7 ratings
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PAT METHENY Road to the Sun Album Cover Road to the Sun
PAT METHENY
4.33 | 3 ratings
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EBERHARD WEBER Fluid Rustle Album Cover Fluid Rustle
EBERHARD WEBER
4.12 | 8 ratings
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This list is in progress since the site is new. We invite all logged in members to use the "quick rating" widget (stars bellow album covers) or post full reviews to increase the weight of your rating in the global average value (see FAQ for more details). Enjoy JMA!

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third stream New Releases

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Eight Pieces For Two Cellos
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TOMEKA REID
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Electric Chamber
EP
ELECTRIC CHAMBER
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New Hope Jazz Mass (Second Day Takes)
Live album
HEIKKI SARMANTO
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Amazing Life
EP
EZRA WEISS
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Voices
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PIOTR WOJTASIK
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Garden of Forking Paths
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JOHN ZORN
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Adventures
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PABLO HELD
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Green of Winter
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BATTLE TRANCE
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Petrichor
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SAM REIDER
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Suite for Piano
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JOHN ZORN
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Ravel
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DIETER ILG
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Paul Plimley
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PAUL PLIMLEY
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Altair
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SEBASTIAN ZAWADZKI
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Viridian
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SEBASTIAN ZAWADZKI
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Group Theory : Black Music
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TUMI MOGOROSI
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Rite Notes
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HAROLD DANKO
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String Quartets Nos. 1-12
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WADADA LEO SMITH
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Les Cadences du Monde
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LOUIS SCLAVIS
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Odesa
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VADIM NESELOVSKYI
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Folk Songs
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SAMUEL BLASER
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Bucharest 1994
Live album
EUGEN CICERO
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Nuna
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DAVID VIRELLES
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Mulberry Street Symphony
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BENJAMIN KOPPEL
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The Chopin Project
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KURT ROSENWINKEL
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Belladonna
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MARY HALVORSON
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Caméléon
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THIERRY MAILLARD
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Potsdam
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IIRO RANTALA
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Secular Psalms
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DAVE DOUGLAS
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The Normyn Suites
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MICHAEL LEONHART
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Ritual Dances
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STEFAN PASBORG
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New York Bass Quartet : Air
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MARTIN WIND
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On The Third-Stream Path
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LAJOS DUDÁS
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Anima
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BAPTISTE TROTIGNON
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third stream Music Reviews

BRAD MEHLDAU Suite : April 2020

Album · 2020 · Third Stream
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js
“Suite: April 2020” is Brad Mehldau’s attempt to capture his feelings during the pandemic while he and his family stayed home to keep from catching or spreading the infectious germs that were sweeping the world. There is of course a good bit of melancholic reflection, but also a small dose of joy that comes from time spent with family. It is a solo piano recording of course, so many solo albums came out during this time from many artists.

The first nine tracks are the highlight of the album. These tracks do flow much like a suite and you will probably find yourself listening to these as a whole, rather than as separate tracks. These are the tracks that dwell on the more somber side of the pandemic, the solitude and reflection that many of us went through. As through composed semi-classical piano pieces, these nine are quite brilliant and sound much like mid-20th century French neo-classical piano works, particularly recalling the piano compositions of Francis Poulenc. Any of these tone poems would hold up well in a contemporary classical concert. A couple tracks that follow are more light-hearted, almost silly, as they attempt to capture the feeling of family fun. These songs are okay, but unfortunately they break the hypnotic spell that Brad built during the first nine performances.

Next up, Mehldau performs an interesting cover of Neil Young’s “Don’t Let it Bring You Down”, introducing a bit of his trademark intertwining contrapuntal lines. This is followed by Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind” which sounds like a fairly standard lounge version, maybe Brad wanted to leave the song alone and let it speak for itself. Apparently the closing number is a Mehldau original as there are no song writing credits given, but its title and music sound like a sentimental pop song from a bygone era. If you put together a CD that featured the first nine tracks plus the Neil Young cover and left the others out, you would have a more consistent suite.

FRANK ZAPPA Orchestral Favorites

Album · 1979 · Third Stream
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UMUR
"Orchestral Favorites" is a live album release by US artist Frank Zappa. The album was released through DiscReet Records in May 1979. It´s the successor to "Sheik Yerbouti" from March 1979. All material featured on "Orchestral Favorites", was originally meant to be featured on the shelved "Läther" box-set, but ended up being released as one of four individual album releases, instead of the collective work that would have been the "Läther" box-set.

The 5 tracks featured on "Orchestral Favorites" were recorded during three sessons on the 17th-19th of September 1975, at Royce Hall on the UCLA campus with conductor Michael Zearott and the 37-piece Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Symphony Orchestra. The first two sessions were recorded as concerts with an audience, while the last session was done without an audience. Zappa spliced the best parts from the three sessions together and added an overdub guitar solo on "Duke of Prunes". It´s a combined classical orchestra and rock group performance, so in addition to the classical music instruments like violin, oboe, and clarinet, the music also features regular rock music instrumentation of guitars, bass, keyboards, and drums. The music is fully instrumental.

The melodic, dynamic, and symphonic "Strictly Genteel" opens the album. An early version of this composition with vocals was included on the "200 Motels" (1971) film and soundtrack. Themes from "200 Motels" (1971) are also used on the closing track "Bogus Pomp". "Pedro's Dowry" and "Naval Aviation in Art" are avant garde tinged classical music pieces, showing Zappa´s more experimental side. "Duke of Prunes", which was originally featured on "Absolutely Free" (1967), is featured here in a re-arranged classical orchestra/rock group version. The above mentioned overdubbed guitar solo is pretty intense, featuring an almost constant near feedback noisy approach.

While "Orchestral Favorites" certainly features a couple of intriguing moments, it´s arguably the least interesting release culled from the shelved "Läther" material. According to Zappa he spend around $200,000 on this project, and honestly I can´t say I think those money was well spend. A 3 star (60%) rating isn´t all wrong though as there are enough great elements to warrant that rating.

FRANK ZAPPA Francesco Zappa

Album · 1984 · Third Stream
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UMUR
"Francesco Zappa" is an album release by US, California based artist Frank Zappa. The album was released through Barking Pumpkin Records in November 1984 and is sandwiched between "Them or Us" from October 1984 and "Thing-Fish" from December 1984.

"Francesco Zappa" is a rather unusual Zappa release, as it doesn´t feature a single piece of music composed by Zappa himself. The album instead features 17 pieces of classical chamber music composed by Italian composer Francesco Zappa (who was active from 1763 and 1788 and despite sharing sur-name with Frank Zappa, aren´t otherwise related). Francesco Zappa isn´t a particularly prolific classical composer in the eyes/ears of today, but in his time he was a highly regarded cellist known for his virtuosic skills on the instrument and his compositions were published and distributed throughout Europe. He spend most of his working life on The Hague's 18th-century music scene. Frank Zappa discovered the music of Francesco Zappa when David Ocker (copyist, synclavier programmer, and clarinetist) introduced Zappa to one of Francesco Zappa´s pieces, and Zappa soon after began a search for sheet music, which proved a difficult task, but he eventually was able to locate some sheet papers.

With the help of Ocker, he then programmed some of the Francesco Zappa pieces into his Synclavier synthesizer and thus we have the "Francesco Zappa" album. A through and through bizarre music experiment and probably not how Francesco Zappa would have imagined the first publication of his music would sound like (not that he could probably even image a publication since he died over 200 years ago). The compositions themselves are rather generic chamber music, influenced by the baroque period which had just ended (gradually faded around 1750). They are decent pieces of classical chamber music, but nothing out of the ordinary for the style, and performed by the Synclavier synthesizer the material becomes a somewhat odd listen. The music which was clearly intended to be played on organic classical music instruments, ends up sounding like plastique casio keyboard elevator muzak.

I´m not sure why Frank Zappa found this music appealing or why he thought it was a good idea to spend time, money, and effort, getting these compositions released, but to my ears it´s probably the least interesting release in his entire discography. I´d even listen to some of the lo-fi quality official bootlegs before listening to this one. It´s not that it´s a horrible listening experience, but it leaves me indifferent and a 2 - 2.5 star (45%) rating isn´t all wrong.

MARIUS GUNDERSEN Arrangements For Guitar By Marco Pereira

Album · 2021 · Third Stream
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js
“Arrangements for Guitar by Marco Pereira” is the second installment in a series of tributes to Pereira by guitarist Marius Noss Gundersen. Marius is a Norwegian who specializes in classical music and Brazilian traditions, which makes him a perfect fit to play the arrangements of Pereiera which walk a fine line between Brazilian art pop and contemporary classical music. Marco is a super star in Brazil, his career has found him working with top performers such as Antonio Carlos Jobim, Gilberto Gil and Milton Nascimento and he is well known for his arrangements, compositions and performances on classical guitar which have won him many awards and competitions over the years. On this new album, Gundersen has picked out twelve Pereira arrangements of art songs by well known Brazilian composers such as the previously mentioned Jobim and Nascimento, as well as Egberto Gismonti and Chico Buarque. Gundersen faithfully recreates Marco’s arrangements, which makes this very much like a contemporary Brazilian classical concert.

Every piece on here is a gem. Marius has technique to burn, but he never resorts to pure flash in his playing, consider him the exact opposite of a certain ‘elegant gypsy’ in that regard. These are, for the most part, melodic and somewhat somber or sentimental tone poems, but if you are looking for some fire, the demanding chart for “Frevo” should satisfy those looking for some burning Latin passion. Also “Modinha” and “Chega de Saudade” lean a bit in that direction as well. The Brazilian take on rhythm is present here, but don’t expect any cliché type bossa nova or samba, the tunes and arrangements on here lean in a more sophisticated and classical tradition. Quite simply, this is beautiful music performed by someone with commanding technique and complete mastery over their instrument.

WYNTON MARSALIS Wynton Marsalis & Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra : The Ever Fonky Lowdown

Album · 2020 · Third Stream
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js
After an incredibly long and productive buildup, it looks like Wynton Marsalis has hit the apex of his career with “The Ever Fonky Low Down”, a tour de force of spoken word, music and dance that speaks volumes against the negative forces that have been on the rise in recent times. The album itself is excellent, but I do hope someday he makes the filmed performance of this more available because with dancers, a large music ensemble and a charismatic narrator in Wendall Pierce, much of the appeal of this opus is visual. The real star of the show here is the lengthy text read by Pierce as the hustling character, Mr Game (“Sell you a loan that will take your home“). Mr Game is part insincere wealthy preacher, corrupt politician and conniving criminal hustler all rolled into one as he attempts to brainwash his audience. The words were all written by Wynton, who is apparently just as talented at libretto as he is with music as he displays the background for the cynical logic that threatens our world today. I won’t try to give out too many details about Mr Game’s rap as he tries to deride ‘they’ and buildup ‘his people’, but you will hear similarities to Hitler’s speech about the Polish people, Trump’s exaggerated and fabricated claims about illegal immigrants and the twisted logic of those who try to justify, or deny, the evils of slavery, genocide and ‘ethnic cleansing’. But its not just about the Mr Games of the world, instead, Wynton is challenging us to look deeper at how we react to Mr Game and his opponents. Do we let them manipulate and divide us, or are we able to think for ourselves and keep our moral compass on track.

The rhythms on here are pure New Orleans in many flavors such as RnB, Dixieland, odd metered modern jazz, post bop modal grooves, street marches and more. On top of this rhythmic foundation Wynton interjects his orchestrations that show similarities to Ellington, Mingus, Stravinsky, Bernstein and Sun Ra. There are plenty of hot solos from the all-star band and lots of free form interaction during the longer jams. It's very telling that the music is based in New Orleans, that fertile birthplace of creativity from which a subjugated people ended up spreading their culture and changing much of the world. As mentioned before, this is a very visual production and its great watching the three male dancers improvise and move in synchronicity with methods taken from jazz ballet and New Orleans street dancing. Also enjoyable is Wendall Pierce’s very charismatic performance, especially when his eyes flash like the devil when Mr Game moves in for the ‘closer‘. Wynton's hand picked musicians bring much personality to the proceedings as well, particularly the three female singers and blues/country guitarist and vocalist Doug Wamble, whose southern drawl can sound charming and also ironically troubling.

What makes ‘Fonky Lowdown’ so powerful is that Marsalis has very thoroughly laid out what dangers lay in wait in today’s world. In a recent interview Wynton pointed out, “This is no time to be sleep walking”. I was already aware of much of what Marsalis relates here, but I have never heard it all illustrated in such a cohesive manner, once again, in Wynton’s own words, “showing us a blueprint on how to rise above populist propaganda”. Don’t expect easy answers or liberal platitudes on how to make things better. Also don't expect cliche shaming and a roll call of past grievances. Instead, Marsalis is shooting for bigger game as he displays the thinking that allows those that should know better to stand by while the 'Mr Games' of the world go about their business. 'Fonky Lowdown' is a call for everyone to pay attention and be ready to act if needed.

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