The Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra explores the vast, diverse repertoire of legendary composer Leonard Bernstein on the stunning, revelatory new album’. Bernstein once called jazz “the ultimate common denominator of the American musical style.” This album explores lesser-known Bernstein pieces through the transformative lens of innovative new arrangements.
The album features none of the usual suspects, the oft-explored West Side Story songs (“Maria,” “Somewhere”) or those that have become jazz standards (“Some Other Time,” “Big Stuff”). Instead, the project’s five gifted and inventive arrangers—Jay Ashby, Darryl Brenzel, Scott Silbert, Mike Tomaro, and Steve Williams—find inspiration in the lesser known corners of Bernstein’s output: the symphonic works, spiritual music, operas, lesser-known musical theater pieces, and even his sole film score, for the classic On the Waterfront. The results are, as the title promises, surprising acts of re-imagination as revelatory to Bernstein aficionados as they will be to newcomers unfamiliar with the original compositions.