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

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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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CHARLES MINGUS Jazzical Moods, Vol. 1 Album Cover Jazzical Moods, Vol. 1
CHARLES MINGUS
4.43 | 3 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
4.08 | 47 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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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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Les Maudits
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Prior Street
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GORDON GRDINA
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Gordon Grdina Septet ‎: Resist
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Suite : April 2020
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Sacrum Facere : Organ
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MARIA FAUST
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Flourish
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The Ice Siren
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Opus 111
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Ensemblepillow : Chamber Jazz
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SEBASTIAN ZAWADZKI
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Virtue
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The Vagabond
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AARON DIEHL
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THE WESTERLIES
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PAT METHENY
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playing Gershwin
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IIRO RANTALA
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third stream Music Reviews

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.

ANDREA MORELLI Andrea Morelli e Silvia Belfiore : DIFFRAZIONE

Album · 2020 · Third Stream
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snobb
Since the introduction of the term "third stream" in the early 60s, there were many recordings released trying to combine jazz and classical music, with mixed success. Way too often the two genres crossover sounded like classic compositions adaptating to more modern sound by adding jazzy rhythms and arrangements, or contrarily - moving jazz bands to the music hall and extracting from their music groove and joy, leaving bloodless sterile compositions.

There still have been some successful examples of the concept, and Italian reedist Andrea Morelli's "Diffrazione" is one of them. Taking twelve compositions, written by two grands of the transition era from classic music era to modern days, Frenchman Eric Satie and American Duke Ellington. He adapted them for modern chamber sax/flute - piano duo with great success.

Eric Satie, French composer known from his compositions for piano, written in the end of the 19th century, isn't all that often cited by jazz musicians. Recognized as an avant-garde composer of sorts by his contemporaries, Satie wrote many short pieces where he rejected the classic idea of musical development, building the basis for coming soon minimalism, but still leaving a lot of romanticism elements in it.

"Diffrazione" contains eight short Satie pieces (mostly all popular "Gnossiennes","Gymnopedies" plus "Sarabande" and "Je te veux", all written between 1887 and 1913), all played by the duo of Andrea and Italian pianist Silvia Belfiore. All of them are musical pieces of exceptional beauty, sounding slightly melancholic but without nostalgia, with an excellent level of emotional taste. Warm and deep chamber sound brings the listener to characteristic atmosphere of European salon on the edge of nineteen and twenties centuries, leaving the old world for soon coming modern one, with all its expectations and troubles.

The album content's other half - five Ellington songs (written between 1928 and 1967). They are ambassadors of a new world here - more rhythmical, obviously less related with old-European classic legacy, and - much more optimistic. Still, adopted for chamber duo, Ellington songs sound softer, better rounded and with many emotional colors, more common for European music.

Placed in the album's program as almost always interchanging, Satie and Ellington musical compositions always differ by their mood, but surprisingly well fit, balancing each other. Altogether, they build that fragile form of jazz and classic crossover which balances on the edge between two genres never crossing the borders and producing music of new quality.

On the album's closer - Ellington's "Angelica" - duo is extended to trio, adding drummer Alessandro Garau. This gives more rhythmic qualities to the composition, which is quite playful itself, and perfectly closes the program on joyful, optimistic note.

Album's title "Diffrazione" means "diffraction", or deviation of waves from main trajectory (the effect, first observed by Italian Francesco Maria Grimaldi, by the way). On Morelli "Diffrazione" the listener can observe the deviation from classical and jazz main trajectories with an elegance and big respect to the source.

You don't need to be a fan of jazz or classics, or both, you don't even need to know all this music terms and tags - this is the music for everyone, excellent combination of taste and master ship.

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.

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Artists with Third Stream release(s)

JMA TOP 5 Jazz ALBUMS

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