Marius Neset and London Sinfonietta: saxophone accompanied by world-class orchestra acquainted classical harmony with jazz rhythms
The intriguing cross-genre collaboration between the Norwegian jazz saxophonist Marius Neset and the London Sinfonietta classical chamber orchestra began in 2016 with the Snowmelt album. Featuring combined arrangements of the jazz quartet and the string-oriented classical orchestra, the record revealed Marius Neset to be both an ingenious musician and a no less talented composer.
Since Snowmelt delighted not only the jazz audience accustomed to experimentation but also attracted the attention of classical lovers, prompting critics to make flattering comparisons to Debussy, Gershwin, and Bernstein, the unique collaboration was resumed two years later on the Viaduct album which mixed twentieth-century art music and spiky jazz rhythms.
Originally commissioned for the opening concert of the Kongsberg Jazz Festival in 2018, Viaduct was split into two half-hour suites to highlight the brilliant interplay between Neset, his quartet, and London Sinfonietta. The composer himself describes Viaduct as existing “somewhere between improvised and modern contemporary classical music,” while its title forms a “connection to different musical ideas.”
Listen to Viaduct Part 1A by Marius Neset with London Sinfonietta:
In both of his works with London Sinfonietta, Neset used symphonic writing in the style of modernist and avant-garde directions of classical music of the 20th century, creating a dynamic background for saxophone passages which he performed himself with great skill.
According to him, the driving force behind these collaborative works was his determination to find the connective elements of various musical philosophies:
“For me, music can give associations about how you go from one world to another and it’s all about the way things are connected, the transitions, and how you can make it into something meaningful.”
Listen to Snowmelt by Marius Neset with London Sinfonietta: