A Cinematic Kind of Jazz

Bruce Von Stiers

Every so often, I get an album in to review that doesn't exactly fit into a specific category or genre. Such is an album that I am currently listening to. The title of the album is Chorando Sete Cores. It is from guitarist Benji Kaplan.

Strictly speaking Benji Kaplan is a jazz musician. But that is not the whole of what his music contains. There are elements of jazz. But just as much are large segments that would not be out of place as background music for classic film pieces. Especially romance films. In a way, the theme is kind of like a chamber orchestra, only with not quite as many instruments. Like I wrote in the first paragraph, Benji's music doesn't exactly fit into a particular box.

Benji composed and arranged all of the music on this album. He played the nylon string acoustic guitar on all of the songs. Helping out on the album was Anne Drummond on alto and C flutes, Remy Le Boeuf on clarinet and bass clarinet and David Byrd-Marrow on French horn. Besides playing on a previous album by Benji, Anne has recorded with Kenny Barron and Stefon Harris along with releasing albums of her own. Remy has a band with his brother called The Le Boeuf Brothers and has toured with Dayna Stephens and the Bob Mintzer Big Band. David's horn can often be heard during Broadway productions.

Bryant Park is the first song on the album. Its opening made me think of film music where the camera pans a green valley from a near hill. Then it moves into a more fluid mode with terrific horn, woodwind and guitar music, all the while keeping in a somewhat cinematic styling.

At The Vanguard offers up a little more cinematic styling with a smidge of jazz here and there. The song has some very cool flute in it along with smooth guitar.

Cancao de Ninar (Berceuse) is a nice guitar laden piece.

With the song, Trenzinho para Lapa (Little train to Lapa), Benji's guitar playing is up front. It is supported nicely by the other instruments in a kind of different take on Brazilian music.

Familiar Strangers comes back to the cinematic styling of the earlier songs on the album. It has an almost orchestral tone.

Guitar is the main instrument in The Wind. The song also has some great horn, clarinet and flute.

A Joyful Stroll is anything but slow and easy. It has somewhat fast guitar melding with the other instruments.

The title track, Chorando Sete Cores (Cries of The Seven Colored Tanager), is a mix of cinematic and somewhat Brazilian stylings.

Happy Sadness sounds pretty much like the title suggests. It has endearing moments along with a sense of longing.

Then there is A Trickster's Bolero. It is an interesting song that conjures up visions of mischief and subtle mayhem.

Benji's guitar is the main focus of Coisa Carioca (A Carioca Thing).

The shortest piece on the album is Samba For Django. It has great guitar that is complement by the flute and clarinet.

Leaves In The Wind is the last song on the album. It is a gentle piece with nice guitar and horn.

I enjoyed listening to this album, and writing about it. Each of the songs had a certain cinematic and almost orchestral sound to them. I kept thinking about film sequences when hearing elements of many of the songs. Especially film scenes showing landscapes or light, romantic interludes.

Chorando Sete Cores is available at CD Baby, amazon and on Benji's web site.

Speaking of Benji's web site, he has selections from the album on it so that you can sample them. The site can be found at http://www.benjikaplan.com/ Benji also has a band page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/musicabenjikaplan/

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© 2018 Bruce E Von Stiers