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MP3 Russ Reinberg - Wistful

Listen for a minute or two and you might discover why the clarinet was so popular in both classical and jazz ... and wonder why it no longer is. Russ Reinberg will transport you, at least for a while, to a kinder, gentler, yet more vibrant world.

19 MP3 Songs in this album (64:08) !
Related styles: Jazz: Chamber Jazz, Easy Listening: Ballads, Solo Instrumental

People who are interested in Benny Goodman Johnny Hodges Paul Desmond should consider this download.

EVERY ALBUM IS as unique as a human being. And, just as some people clearly distinguish themselves, so do some albums. Wistful offers such a distinguishing musical experience. Some of its nineteen original tunes are destined to become standards. And nobody but clarinetist Russ Reinberg, their composer and arranger, could have performed them with as much beauty, expression, and passion.

But why an album of originals?

“Eventually you get to a point,” says Russ, “where you realize you have been performing the same tunes as every other musician. You realize that, no matter how well you play them, you’re still going to be the ninety-seventh person to record, for example, Moonglow or Yardbird Suite or Unforgettable. And you realize a musician usually must introduce a tune to define it and, once he does, every other version seems like a tribute. Especially since I play what a lot of people today think of as an obsolete instrument, I just wanted to do something new.

“Thousands of people have written original tunes. Most are forgettable. Maybe mine will be, too. But if you listen to them a couple of times, you’ll probably remember a few and you might find yourself humming them in the car or in the shower because they are melodic. That’s something missing from a lot of today’s music and especially from jazz.

“Nobody ever taught me how to write music. I never read anything about how to compose or arrange a tune and, if I had, it might have made it more difficult. One day I just decided to try writing some new stuff, in the same style as the tunes I like best, but completely my own. At first I would take a walk and think about melodies or riffs and come up with an idea. But, most of the time when I’d come home, write it down, and play it I had to toss the music into the trash can. A couple were okay; I think I came up with Fracas that way and maybe Takin’ A Chance On You. Most were disasters.

“After a while I had managed to write six or eight decent originals that weren’t on my other albums. The first idea was to combine them with some standards for a new album. And then that idea about playing something different hit me and I wanted more of my own music. So, in the summer of 2010, I just sat down and made up some chord progressions. Then I listened to them a few times and wrote some melody lines to fit them. The basic tunes sounded okay but I needed arrangements, too. So I thought up some riffs and harmonies to fill in the blanks. I think I wrote half the album in about ten days.

“The result may not be strictly ‘jazz’ in the way most people think of it today. It’s not gritty enough and there’s too little interplay between the instruments. It’s probably more like ‘jazzy pop’ or maybe ‘jazz for people who didn’t know they like jazz’. I’ll let the business guys decide what slot it fits if anyone bothers to listen. Yeah, that will certainly happen! Well, it might if I were a beautiful sixteen year old girl singer....

“I recorded the thing in two sessions. I don’t remember much about either one except that it was kind of warm in the studio, even at night, and I had only one playable reed and it was fighting me most of the time. Oh, yeah. Greystoke the cat knocked something over halfway through one tune. Anyway, I managed to get through everything with some decent takes. Thank goodness Burr Middleton was available because his drumming added a lot to the overall feel.”

Those are the words of the musician.

People seem to expect those of us who write liner notes and reviews to make the creative process and its results somehow larger than life regardless of the quality of the material on the album. It’s as though glamorous words somehow would cause anybody’s music to transcend its mortal source.

Hype temporarily may compensate for lack of substance. But I have chosen to quote Russ Reinberg’s very human words because his music so clearly does transcend them; it needs no help from me. The very best music, after all, springs from those most human.

Dr. Anders Malmberg
Internationella Jazz Institutet
Höör, Sweden

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