Third Stream

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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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JAN GARBAREK Mnemosyne (with The Hilliard Ensemble) Album Cover Mnemosyne (with The Hilliard Ensemble)
JAN GARBAREK
4.50 | 4 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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EBERHARD WEBER Silent Feet Album Cover Silent Feet
EBERHARD WEBER
4.18 | 11 ratings
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MILES DAVIS Sketches of Spain Album Cover Sketches of Spain
MILES DAVIS
4.09 | 46 ratings
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EBERHARD WEBER The Following Morning Album Cover The Following Morning
EBERHARD WEBER
4.10 | 10 ratings
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TERRY RILEY A Rainbow in Curved Air (aka Ambient 2) Album Cover A Rainbow in Curved Air (aka Ambient 2)
TERRY RILEY
4.09 | 9 ratings
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DAVE HOLLAND Life Cycle Album Cover Life Cycle
DAVE HOLLAND
4.08 | 6 ratings
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KEITH JARRETT Spheres Album Cover Spheres
KEITH JARRETT
4.12 | 4 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 Music Reviews

DEWA BUDJANA Dewa Budjana, Tohpati : Janapati

Album · 2019 · Third Stream
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js
Dewa Budjana and Tohpati are the two top guitarists in Indonesia’s thriving fusion scene, and on “Janapati”, they join forces for a musical extravaganza backed by a full orchestra. Even the album title refers to their union as it is comprised of syllables taken from both of their names. With two well known guitarists on board, one world probably expect a non-stop shred fest, but instead, the music on here is often created with lush orchestral passages which leave space for their solos, mostly on acoustic guitars. The orchestral music itself draws on both Indonesian and Western melodies, and bears some resemblance to late 19th century classical romanticism, but much of this very robust ensemble work is actually more reminiscent of Broadway spectaculars and panoramic film scores. The orchestra hits you full blast when the CD first opens, and continues to dominate for much of the album. It is a well recorded bright orchestra sound that is just massive in its scope and presence.

On a couple tracks they set the orchestra aside for some great guitar duets. 'D Romance" features some of the best fret work as they open the song with intertwining classical melodies that open into a jazzy middle section. The electric version of title track, “Duology”, is a high energy rocker that carries the most all out shredding. “Duology” also appears again later on the album, this time in an acoustic format. In some ways, the electric version may seem out of place on this album, but I would imagine fans of both guitarists wouldn’t have minded hearing some more jams in that style.

WYNTON MARSALIS JLCO with Wynton Marsalis and St. Louis Symphony : Swing Symphony

Album · 2019 · Third Stream
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js
Certainly Wynton Marsalis has worn many different hats in his career as a musician, but possibly his strongest talent is as a classic 3rd stream composer, and his latest effort “Swing Symphony”, does much to bear this out. Much like Stravinsky and Ravel, Marsalis is a ‘natural composer’, that is to say, no matter how complex or complicated his music may get, it always seems to roll along as naturally as someone walking down the street whistling a favorite melody. This is an ambitious piece that strives to present the history of jazz in a concert hall setting, but don’t expect a dry history lesson, do expect some swingin music and plenty of hot solos backed by driving rhythmic accompaniment.

Much of “Swing Symphony” recalls that time period when jazz first met classical under the guidance of composers like Duke Ellington, George Gershwin, Darius Milhaud and others. In that respect this piece could be seen as ‘future retro’ in that it captures the modern tone of a certain era that manages to remain modern in appearance for all history, for instance, the always futuristic style known as art deco. In many ways, the more experimental music of the 20s and 30s is the art deco of the musical world. Wynton’s symphony does not stay in the 30s, but even as the presented musical styles move up to the late 20th century, its that early mix of classical and jazz that marks the overall tone of this piece.

Avoiding a laborious retelling of all the events in “Swing Symphony”, it is interesting to note some of the highlights. Before the symphony gets into jazz’s roots as ragtime, there is a brief opening section that recalls Ellington’s version of African music. Yes, it all starts with Africa, and I never doubted Wynton would start anywhere else. After this, the ragtime arrangements kick in and then there is a trumpet break, who is this, Buddy Bolden or Louie Armstrong or possibly a little bit of both. In the third movement of the symphony we find ourselves in the swing era and Wynton does a great job of capturing the sound of the Ellington saxophone section.

The fourth movement opens like a tribute to Dizzy Gillespie as we move from bebop to Afro-Cuban. A particularly melancholic saxophone melody closes out this movement and it is quite possibly a reference to the tragic downfall of one of jazz’s most prominent geniuses, Charlie Parker. As we move through the last three movements the music becomes more abstract and dissonant, often recalling Edgar Varese, Charles Ives, Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland and Gil Evans. Movement five features a modal hard bop jam in the style of Coltrane and Miles, and in movement six we get some rather brutish and clumsy rhythms, possibly a satirical jab at fusion. Movement seven brings back an African groove, this time existing halfway between the worlds of the Duke and Sun Ra with a dash of Stravinsky and the symphony closes out with a floating abstract return to swing.

“Swing Symphony” is one of those pieces that should gain strength through the ages and hopefully it will find its deserved place in the concert hall 3rd stream repertoire. Its easy to imagine a future symphonic program that might include Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue”, Stravinsky’s “Ebony Concerto”, Ellington’s “Black, Brown and Beige’, and Marsalis’ swingin symphony.

MARIUS GUNDERSEN Brazilian Guitar Music by Marco Pereira

Album · 2019 · Third Stream
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js
Something wonderful happened in the world of music starting sometime in the 1920s and continuing to today and that is the merging of jazz and European classical traditions to create new modern hybrids. Its hard to think of a composer past the 1920s that wasn’t influenced by jazz’s sophisticated syncopated rhythms, and certainly jazz musicians had no chance to escape the classical influence as more than likely most of their advanced lessons centered around Chopin, Bach and the rest. In today’s musical universe, other musical components can enter the picture as well, such as Indian ragas, Indonesian Gamelan and Latin American traditions. Its within that merger of classical, jazz and Brazilian practices that we find the new album by Marius Noss Gundersen, “Brazilian Guitar Music by Marco Pereira”.

The title says it all, Gundersen’s new album is a collection of compositions for classical acoustic guitar written by Marco Periera, who’s classical compositions are inspired by Brazilian song forms. In the album liner notes Periera expresses his gratitude to Marius for producing the first album entirely devoted to Marco’s music. Marco also includes very helpful notes for every track on the album, which is nice because very few of us are going to be familiar with all of the Brazilian traditions he is referencing, so its good to have some program notes as a guide if you want to learn more.

The compositions are excellent, deep enough for close and repeated listening, but also pleasant enough to be attractive to people who might not know a thing about Latin jazz or contemporary classical music. Marius’ guitar playing is impressive as he tends to bring out the delicate side of this rather difficult instrument. Listening to how well he can control volume as an aid to expression proves that he is definitely in that upper echelon of guitarists. Fast passages sound unrushed and handled with ease, this CD is a treasure chest for fans of nimble finger picking in any style. So many good tracks on here, but some standouts include, “Estrela da Manha” with its mystical mixolydian chord changes, “Bate-Coxa” has an almost Carribean sounding celebratory style, and album closer, Baiao Cansada” with its modernistic Lydian melodies.

JUSTIN MORELL Justin Morell Concerto for Guitar and Jazz Orchestra (feat. Adam Rogers)

Album · 2018 · Third Stream
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js
I’ve probably listened to hundreds of works that combine jazz and classical music, but I really have not heard anything similar to Justin Morell’s new opus, “Concerto for Guitar and Jazz Orchestra”. There are some familiar elements at work here, but overall Justin’s vision of what a jazzy concerto can sound like is unique to himself. The press package that comes with this CD is somewhat misleading as it references classical concerto composers such as Mozart and Beethoven, and although Morell may have used some of their compositional forms, there is nothing on here that sounds remotely like Beethoven, which is probably good as I can hardly imagine jazz mixing well with Ludwig’s German sensibilities. Instead, what we hear on hear is rooted in the early jazz classical mixers such as George Gershwin and Duke Ellington, plus modern big band arrangers along the lines of Thad Jones and Bob Mintzer, as well as mid-20th century composers such as Paul Hindemith and Darius Milhaud, and finally, the unexpected use of modern minimalism in its more melodic aspects in the style of John Adams and some of Phillip Glass’s less repetitive pieces. Its this subtle use of the minimalist’s style that helps give Morell’s work its unique sound.

“Concerto for Jazz Orchestra” is divided into three movements stated quite simply as fast-slow-fast. The opening movement introduces the aforementioned minimalist approach in a very subtle and disguised manner. Do not expect the pounding repetitions of some of Phillip Glass’s work, instead Morell’s method uses melodic fragments that get passed around by the orchestra while the guitar keeps a steady stream of notes flowing. Toward the end of this movement guitarist Adam Rogers is given a chance to solo over the orchestra's rhythmic punches. Movement two is almost ballad like and features a section in which Rogers trades solos with a saxophonist, but the CD cover does not tell us which saxophonist does the soloing. The third movement picks up the pace in a style similar to the first.

This CD is not easy listening, like much of today’s jazz and concert hall music, the sounds on here are abstract and fragmented and not always easily absorbed with just a few listens. Still, fans of contemporary 3rd stream music will want to check this out. As mentioned earlier, Morell’s vision is singular and you will probably end up agreeing with me that this concerto does not sound like anyone else.

BOBBY PREVITE Rhapsody / Terminals Part II : In Transit

Album · 2018 · Third Stream
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snobb
In year 1971 Carla Bley's massive 6-sides eclectic jazz-rock opera "Escalator Over The Hill" became sensation of sort presenting bulky if way-too-long collection of musical genres and scenes' stars all mixed together. Where else dedicated listener had the possibility to hear Jack Bruce, Linda Ronstadt,Jeanne Lee,Don Cherry,Charlie Haden,Gato Barbieri,Roswell Rudd,John McLaughlin,Paul Motian,Enrico Rava and some others playing/singing together?

London-based RareNoise label for some last years trying hard mixing their basic prog/rock aesthetics with creative jazz and improvs elements, at their best the results are truly impressive. Last year they released unpredictable "Loneliness Road" where mainstream jazz rooted trio of organist Jamie Saft,bassist Steve Swallow and drummer Bobby Previte is improved with Iggy Pop(!) singing on three songs ("Don't Lose Yourself" is a true killer, two others are just fillers though).

Now they continues with Bobby Previte's "Rhapsody" - second in line American drummer and composer's suite where (as almost half a century ago on Carla's "Escalator...") one can hear some leading modern creative scene's musicians playing together. Guitarist Nels Cline,harpist Zeena Parkins,pianist John Medeski are well known to everyone familiar with downtown scene, American (of SE Asian descent) vocalist Jen Shyu is one of the brightest new name among creative jazz vocalists of today. Only dark horse in a list is young Austrian sax player Fabian Rucker, but he does his job really well.

Most important is still music itself - Previte demonstrates here well-framed and tightly composed modern rock opera rooted in prog rock aesthetics of the past (there are few moments sounding as citation from Pink Floyd music of mid 70s),but deeply reworked according to new millennium requirements. Take on material is almost classical with attention to details and melodic lines importance. Combined with neo-classical/Far Eastern trad vocals of Jen (plus tasteful addition of Chinese traditional string instrument erhu sounds, played by her as well) it produces music, which could sound more comfortably in modern opera than on rock scene. Still guitar licks and explosive sax solos together with high energetic level in general make whole music quite accessible and possibly attractive for listeners,more familiar with rock music too.

Freshly sounding, diverse and modern (with respect to different traditions), "Rhapsody" is a really successful release which can attract listeners of very different background/interests.

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Artists with Third Stream release(s)

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