Emotion & Commotion
“In lieu of trying to outgroove groove … (I thought I’d) try to go the other way (to classical),” says Beck in a promotional video for his new CD. His inner child, however, wanted to “blow down buildings with loud noise.”
The Waitiki 7 are not a revivalist group like Don Tiki — which W7 drummer Abe Lagrimas Jr. was a member of before he and longtime friend/fellow Hawaiian Randy Wong co-founded the original Waitiki quartet — but rather an exotica jam band. The septet updates the genre by augmenting the requisite vibraphone with plenty of sax and violin and often employing dead-serious jazz improvisation.
The journey off pedal steel guitar’s beaten path continues with Perlowin’s third release: First he proved the instrument capable of rendering classical standards with unspeakable beauty on “Firebird Suite”; then he tackled Leonard Bernstein’s multicultural “West Side Story” with such aplomb it was like hearing the masterwork anew; now he takes listeners on an auditory voyage to the Mediterranean and unearths some sublimely exotic “Spanish Steel.”
These symphonic reimaginings of Gershwin’s crossover compositions succeed in terms of performance as well as engineering: Anne-Marie McDermott superbly conveys the serious and playful side of the material; guest conductor Justin Brown moves the Dallas Symphony Orchestra along at just the right speed, balancing restraint with vigor; and the digital recording combines with the excellent Meyerson Symphony Center acoustics to provide optimal audio.
The premise: an instrumental banjo-bass duo album, recorded live over the course of three tours.