BUT NOT FORGOTTEN - Various Composers - Marcus Eley (Clarinet)

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BUT NOT FORGOTTEN - Various Composers - Marcus Eley (Clarinet) - Lucerne DeSa (Piano) - 053479215628 - Released: July 2012 - Sono Luminus DSL92156

1} Dorothy Rudd Moore - Night Fantasy
2} Alvin Batiste - Episodes
3} Clarence Cameron White - Basque Folk Song
4} Undine Smith Moore - Introduction and Allegro
5} Samuel Akpabot - Pastorale from Scenes from Nigeria
6} Quincy Hilliard - Coty
7} William Grant Still - Romance
8} Scott Joplin - Weeping Willow
9} Todd Cochran - Soul-Bird
10} Traditional - Amazing Grace (Arr. by H. Stevenson)

As the title suggests, this new CD brings together music by composers ranging from the slightly neglected to the completely ignored. As a matter of fact, the majority of the pieces in this collection get their world première recording exposure on this CD thanks to the hard work and dedication of clarinetist Marcus Eley. In a recent interview on Minnesota Public Radio (listen here), he states: "One of the things I wanted to do in this recording is to salute the unsung heroes of music composition by people who are African-American," he explains. "And this recording is dedicated to those composers that I've had the pleasure of working with or those composers that I've admired over the years." It presents hidden musical gems from composers spanning a time period from 1868 to the present day, from ragtime to the purely impressionist.

The moods and styles range from the lyrical and evocative Basque Folk Song in which Marcus Eley clearly demonstrates the clarinet's singing quality, to the technically challenging Episodes where he probably doesn't even have time to come up for air. From the traditional form of the Romance to the quirky adventurous freedom of Coty, both Eley and pianist Lucerne DeSa easily shift gears and comfortably get into character. Other highlights include Eley's own arrangement of Scott Joplin's ragtime two-step Weeping Willow, which sounds like two old friends strolling down an old sidewalk, taking turns recounting tales from the past and hopscotching. Very loyal to the original version for solo piano, but yet warmer. And Todd Cochran's Soul-Bird in which, just like a bird, the clarinet is free to soar as high as it can to express life.

Ever since I heard, many many years ago, Benny Goodman belt out Leonard Bernstein's Prelude, Fugue and Riffs for clarinet and orchestra, I've been convinced of this simple wind instrument's expressive power. It's not only suitable for Dixieland jazz or Weber sonatas, as this recording clearly demonstrates. Marcus Eley knows when and how to make the clarinet charm, dance, sing and cry. His versatile take on all of these widely different pieces makes this an enjoyable collection. The recorded sound itself by Sono Luminus (formerly Dorian Records) is warm and intimate.

Jean-Yves Duperron - September 2012