Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy: I Only Have Eyes For You

Trumpeter Lester Bowie's love for '50s pop found an outlet in his Brass Fantasy, a nonet consisting of four trumpets, two trombones, a French horn, tuba and drums. The music the group made for ECM in the '80s was, in general, good-humored without being jokey, reasonably demanding without being pedantic. "I Only Have Eyes For You" was written for the 1934 Hollywood film Dames and sung by the then-famous screen couple, Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell. Bowie's arrangement draws on the 1959 version by The Flamingos—easily the best known, thanks to its inclusion on the soundtrack of George Lucas's 1973 film, American Graffiti. The notoriously wacky Bowie is respectful in his treatment, his arrangement following the general outline of The Flamingos' version with only the faintest hint of tongue in cheek. Indeed, the performance is straightforward to the point of being a bit dull, with only Bowie's pliable improvising being of much interest. The music is adequately performed—you'd expect nothing less from a group that includes the likes of Steve Turre, Bob Stewart and the leader—but it lacks anything resembling a spark. Brass Fantasy could (and did) do better elsewhere.

March 01, 2009 · 0 comments


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