CHIE SATO RODEN AND FIRE IN JULY – Streetcar Journey

Married Fox

Having listened to a suite by Alex North comprising sequences from the soundtrack to A Streetcar Named Desire – the celebrated 1951 film with Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh based upon Tennessee Williams’ novel – pianist Chie Sato Roden devised an enhancement of the existing material. According to the new conception, the themes would be expanded and rearranged for chamber ensemble, the performance also featuring original tunes inspired by the same sources to supplement the movie’s scenes during the live set. To bring all this to the finishing point, Fire In July – a group led by cellist and singer Jody Redhage that includes another composer involved here, trombonist Alan Ferber – joined Roden in the realization of the plan. Putting my acknowledged ignorance in the history of cinema and theatre aside for a moment, I’m pleased to report that the acoustic result spells as “mission almost completely accomplished”. The arrangements are translucent and accurately executed, the instrumental compound uncongested. Nice suggestions – occasionally with a smidgen of irony – are frequently elicited by the music, which does not disclose miraculous recipes besides the diligence and passion that certainly represented an important part of the equation throughout the creative process. The mixture of respectfulness towards tradition and moderate quirkiness is well dosed, and although this reviewer prefers Redhage’s poignant cello to her rather indecisive soprano voice – limited in any case to one third of the tracks – the sung parts are more or less serviceable. Roden’s solitary interludes are favourably greeted over a general sense of aural contentment. Brilliant musicians implicated in an interesting, if not exactly pioneering idea which grants us a reasonably heart-warming album.

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