Lou Caimano / Eric Olsen
Dyad Plays Jazz Arias
Lou Caimano, Alto Saxophone
Eric Olsen, Piano
Randy Brecker on Trumpet and Flugelhorn
Ted Nash, Tenor Saxophone
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
October 21, 2016
This CD is a series of arrangements of classical opera fused into jazz arias, like Delibes’ “Flower Duet” from Lakmé and Bizet’s “Habanera” from Carmen. This is a creative musical project and one that can introduce jazz aficionados to a bit of opera and opera buffs to a bit of jazz. Eric Olsen, on piano, and Lou Caimano, on alto saxophone, are joined by guests, Randy Brecker, on trumpet and flugelhorn, and Ted Nash, on tenor saxophone, for contrasting tones of keyboard –brass fusion. Mr. Olsen is a seasoned classical and jazz artist, having worked with chamber music groups and symphony orchestras, as well as having performed at numerous jazz clubs and jazz festivals. Mr. Caimano is an artist of jazz fusion, new age, and Broadway orchestras. They, and their two guests, bring many years of performance experience to this visionary recording.
#3 – Méditation – Composed by Jules Massenet (Gallet), Arranged by L. Caimano/E. Olsen. This is one of my favorite opera intermezzos, renowned for a ballet pas de deux to this score from Massenet’s opera, Thaïs. Thaïs has left a luxurious life to escape to religion to save her soul. Mr. Olsen opens this track with jazzy piano rhythms, soon to be joined by Mr. Caimano on alto sax. The sax presents the enchanting theme in uncluttered, melodic rapture. A solo keyboard interlude adds contrast, but the high points occurred in the lush piano-alto sax, blended duets.
#4 – Seguidilla – Composed by Georges Bizet (Meilhac/Halévy), Arranged by E. Olsen. Bizet’s theme, from his opera, Carmen, evokes Carmen’s flirtation, as she stands behind bars trying to seduce her guard. One can imagine a Spanish courtesan in ruffles, fan, and flowers, as the gypsy, Carmen, has her way and escapes her guard. The Olsen-Caimano, piano-sax striking repetitions evoke clicking heels and castanets. A piano interlude brings back the jazz tempo, before Mr. Caimano’s tantalizing, alto sax theme fervently returns.
#5 – Do not utter a word – Composed by Samuel Barber (Menotti), Arranged by E. Olsen. Barber’s (and Menotti’s) opera, Vanessa, includes this aria, sung by the heroine, who laments a departed lover. This was unexpectedly one of my favorite tracks, with Randy Brecker’s bluesy, sultry flugelhorn grabbing the theme and adding a film noir aura to the listening experience. Mr. Olsen’s piano takes one of his now anticipated jazzy interludes to turn the music inside out. Yet, the flugelhorn aria ends in Vanessa’s yearning for her youth, with covered mirrors that hide the passing years.
#7 – Dio! mi potevi scagliar – Composed by Giuseppe Verdi (Boito), Arranged by E. Olsen. In this Verdi aria, Otello has attacked Desdemona for infidelity and cries to God for his fate of having been betrayed. Mr. Olsen’s piano introduces echoing phrases, before Ted Nash’s tenor sax takes the theme of Otello’s scorching, tortured soul. The piano’s chordal atonality builds, as does the frenzied brass-keyboard implosion.