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Album review: 'Reverso — Suite Ravel'


Ryan Keberle and Frank Woeste

"Reverso — Suite Ravel"


"Reverso — Suite Ravel," the new album by New York City trombonist Ryan Keberle and French pianist Frank Woeste, is a decidedly contemporary take on Maurice Ravel's musical ideas. The notion of top jazz players drawing inspiration from the music of Ravel is payback of a sort, alluded to in the album's title. When the great French composer visited the US in 1928, he said, "You Americans take jazz too lightly ... it is jazz that will give rise to the national music of the United States." He was right.

But this album is more complex than just a jazz version of Ravel. The largely improvised work explores "Le Tombeau De Couperin," a six-movement piano suite that was Ravel's homage to French Baroque music as exemplified by the work of Francois Couperin. Occasionally Ravel's themes surface, especially in "Ostinato (Prelude)" and "Alangui (Forlane)," but the album is a highly abstract excursion, launching from Ravel but reaching its own heights. Adding color to the rich aural palette are cellist Vincent Courtois and drummer Jeff Ballard.