Audio Format: CD
Playing Time: 56:37
Release Date: 2002
Track ListingAry Barroso
From All Things Considered, Sunday, May 12, 2002
“The contrabassoon plays the lowest of the low notes, and doesn’t get a lot of time in the limelight. That’s why contrabassoonist Allen Savedoff teamed up with arranger Kim Scharnberg to work on a CD that would let the instrument strut its stuff. Host Jacki Lyden speaks with both Savedoff and Scharnberg about the result of their collaboration, Contradiction.” Listen!
Cadence Vol. 28 No. 8 – August 2002 – by Steven Loewy
“Yes, it’s corny, and it’s Jazz lite, and yes, it’s filled with schmaltz. But, hand it to Allen Savedoff. Ironically, perhaps, he’s done it all tastefully and appealingly, and this recording should help elevate the stature of his two primary instruments, the bassoon and the contrabassoon. Jazz bassoonists are rare, to be sure, but Savedoff puts the woodwind in an entirely new light by showing that it can effectively be featured in at least a smooth Jazz format. Although that alone might be deemed a significant accomplishment, there is more. Through the clever arrangements of Kim Scharnberg, Savedoff exposes the beauty of the bassoon’s natural sound, especially the lower register of the contrabassoon. Savedoff also shows that the bassoon can be a mainstream horn, capable of being the leading voice in an orchestra. This is an important step in liberating the bassoon from its assumed limitations. When Savedoff, for example, leads on “I Feel Pretty Good” (a combination of “I Feel Pretty” and James Brown’s “I Feel Good”), he could almost be confused with a big-sounding baritone saxophone. Since improvisation is not his forte (he mainly sticks to variations on the melodies), Savedoff wisely chooses mostly popular and recognizable tunes, ranging from Monk’s “’Round Midnight” to Joe Zawinal’s “(Big) Birdland,” where the bassoonist husky sound focuses on melody and light soloing. Ultimately, the recording never rises above the level of good background fare, but with the lush strings on a couple of pieces, the subtle arrangements, and the focus on the rich tones of a powerful, often neglected woodwind, this is the sort of album that is almost curiously irresistible. Savedoff’s cute liner notes and re-titling of songs (for example, “Anything You Can Do (I Can Do Lower)”) remind me of Jon Rose, without quite the sophistication."
Los Angeles Times – April 28 – by Howard Reich
Star Rating: *
“Jazz contrabassoonists never have been exactly in high demand, but that hasn’t stopped Savedoff from releasing a thoroughly charming recording on which he defies the presumed limitations of the instrument. Bringing a touch of humor to practically every track, he swings buoyantly on a whimsical merger of Leonard Bernstein’s waltz “I Feel Pretty” and James Brown’s famous shout “I Feel Good” to come up with “I Feel Pretty Good.” The idea may sound farfetched, but the combination of Kim Scharnberg’s witty arrangement and Savedoff’s double-reed virtuosity produces a carefree music that can’t help but make the listener smile. Great music-making doesn’t always have to be deadly serious, a point that Savedoff makes with nearly every joyous phrase he plays."
The Double Reed – Vol. 25, No.1 – by Ron Klimko
(magazine of the International Double Reed Society)
“Allen Savedoff is a self-proclaimed ‘contra-nut’, a passion which began at the age of 6 and continues unabated to the present! Nowadays, he can be found playing occasionally with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra or the Pacific Symphony, and free-lancing in the Los Angeles area.
In this CD Allen has teamed up with Hollywood and New York composer/arranger Kim Scharnberg to produce a delightful record of wonderful, generally well- known tunes featuring mostly contra, but some nice bassoon work-sometimes in multi tracks-as well. The entire CD is a neat celebration to the fun side of contra and bassoon playing. It is a joy to listen to!
Most of the tracks are familiar tunes, from the rollicking opening cut of Brazil on the contra; to Bernsteins I Feel Pretty (Good) which starts with ‘apologies’ to the music for the movie ‘Jaws’; to Victor Young’s When I Fall in Love, Gershwin’s Summertime Ellington’s Caravan, Thelonius Monk’s ‘Round Midnight, Stolen Moments by Oliver Nelson; to Irving Berlin’s Anything You Can Do (I Can Do Lower), which features two ‘dueling’ contrabassoons in stereo; to Kurt Weill’s Speak Low, and finally to Joe Zawinul’s rousing Birdland for contra, bassoons, stage band and piccolo. With the exception of Summertime (which is a sax piece arranged for multi-tracked 4 bassoons and contra by Bob Florence, all the arrangements are done superbly by Kim Scharnberg. Each one is quite original. Stolen Moments, for instance, is scored only for contra, marimba, and guitar-nice. There are even a couple of original Scharnberg compositions in the mix. The eighth track is a beautiful song entitled Vista, which Alan plays gorgeously entirely on the bassoon. The background also features female voices, and pianist Alan Steinberger, who provides a nice additional accompaniment and improvisation as well. Sure, it’s all a bit ‘Hollywood’, but I love it! The other work by Scharnberg, Rumble, is a nice chance for the contra to act ‘scary’ by grumbling and grunting around, with a tuba added to the mix. Pretty ‘serious’ stuff!!
I really like this CD. Even though it was definitely done in a studio and has that ‘studio’ sound, it probably had to be done there, due to the multi tracking at times and the probably pre-recorded big band behind a few of the tracks. With that, however, it is still pretty decently recorded, and balanced out extremely well. It’s a great romp for Alan and his contra and occasional bassoon. The humorous program notes are also fun to read. I love the fact that we bassoonists (and contra-ists) don’t take ourselves to seriously. We have our moments for seriousness, but we must never forget the ‘play’ part of playing our instruments. Buy this CD! It’s a hoot!!!
Rating: 3 Crows"