The variety of John Lewis's activities make him one of the most interesting and significant musical figures in the jazz world. "Original Sin" was written in 1961 for a conventional symphony orchestra and explores the sounds and movements of modern jazz. On "Essence," Lewis plays the compositions and arrangements of vibraphonist Gary McFarland -- together with orchestra, Lewis paints a tonal landscape with textures and layers of what he refers to as "tone colors." Personnel on "Essence" include Freddie Hubbard, Eric Dolphy, Phil Woods, Jim Hall, and Gunther Schuller.
2 LPs on 1 CD: ORIGINAL SIN (1961)/ESSENCE (1964).
ORIGINAL SIN is an original ballet score composed and conducted by John Lewis. ESSENCE features the compositions and arrangements of Gary McFarland.
Personnel includes: John Lewis (conductor, piano); Gary McFarland (arranger, conductor); Eric Dolphy (alto saxophone, alto flute); Benny Golson (tenor saxophone); Jimmy Giuffre (baritone saxophone); Freddie Hubbard (trumpet); Phil Woods (clarinet); Harold Jones (flute); Jim Hall (guitar); Richard Davis, George Duvivier (bass); Connie Kay (drums).
Originally released on Atlantic (1370) & Atlantic (1425).
This Collectables reissue pairs up two albums by pianist, arranger, and Modern Jazz Quartet musical director John Lewis. Original Sin was Lewis' second experiment with a symphony orchestra. This ballet was originally performed in 1961 at the Alcazar Theatre in San Francisco, CA, with the libretto provided by beat poet Kenneth Rexroth based on Adam and Eve. Without the added excitement that improvisation could have provided, Original Sin comes across stiff. On the other hand, Essence, released in 1964, allows space for improvising around the charts provided by vibraphonist Gary McFarland. Arranged by Lewis, it featuring an array of jazz greats including Eric Dolphy, Phil Woods, Freddie Hubbard, Benny Golson, Jimmy Giuffre, and Jim Hall. Both sessions have their moments, but Essence is the main attraction on this disc. ~ Al Campbell