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Bach in Havana

A Musical Comparison of Source and Adaptation

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The music of Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750) has served as inspiration for musical re-interpretation for well over a century. In the purely classical realm, adaptations by Charles Gounod (his famous Ave Maria), Leopold Stokowski (Toccata and Fugue in D-), and Ferrucio Busoni (Chaconne in D-), among others, are well known and have even entered into the standard repertoire themselves. Outside of classical music, jazz musicians especially have turned to Bach's supreme melodic and harmonic gifts as a point of departure for their own improvisatory skills and inventiveness. In particular, Bach's frequent use of steady 16th-note figuration, wrapped in exquisite harmonic progressions, has provided jazz musicians with ample source material. Among outstanding examples of jazz interpretations of Bach's music include those by the Modern Jazz Quartet, the Swingle Singers, and pianist Jacques Loussier.

Now, Sony Classical has released an intriguing approach to Bach's music, More on J.S.Bach utilizing the sizzling world of Latin Jazz. The two-time Grammy™– nominated Cuban music group TIEMPO LIBRE, based in Miami, has released Bach in Havana – a dual odyssey through the music of J.S. Bach and the variety of Latin Jazz styles. The full range of Bach's music is employed, including many beloved favorites (such as the "Air on a G String" from the Orchestral Suite No.3; the Prelude in C from the Well-tempered Clavier, Book 1; and the Prelude from the Cello Suite No.1 in G). Each of the eleven Bach arrangements is then presented in tandem with a distinct style of Cuban-derived jazz, including Son, Cha-cha-chá, Bolero, Batá, and many others. At times Bach's music is foreground material and the primary source of the interpretation (as in the Bolero version of "Air on a G String", featuring the brilliant alto saxophonist Paquito d'Rivera); at other times, Bach's music provides more of a background theme or motive to an original Latin Jazz piece (as in "Timbach", which incorporates fragments of Bach's Prelude in D from the WTC, Book 1). In each case, however, the interpretation is creative and successfully honors the two realms – Bach and Latin Jazz – that join forces.

The Classical Archives is pleased to feature this album with a unique twist – placing each track by Tiempo Libre next to a recording of Bach's original source composition, performed by an outstanding artist from our impressive roster. We've also provided the original liner notes from Tiempo Libre's music director, arranger, and pianist, Jorge Gómez, to better understand the thinking behind the arrangements – simply click the "Liner Notes" button next to the work.  Finally, we proudly provide a variety of ways to listen to the selections presented here – as individual tracks and as a combined "concert" of both Tiempo Libre and the original Bach compositions.


Nolan Gasser, PhD
Artistic Director, Classical Archives

More About Tiempo Libre

The Comparison

Play the Adaptation and Source

or select individual tracks from below

Adaptation: 1.Tu conga Bach (Conga, inspired by Bach's Fugue in C-, from the WTC, Book 1, BWV847b)

Play
Tiempo Libre Jazz Ensemble

Source: J.S. Bach, Well-tempered Clavier, Book 1, Fugue No.2 in C-, BWV847b

Adaptation: 2.Fuga (Cha-cha-chá, based on Sonata No.2 for Solo Violin in A-, BWV1003, 2. Fuga)

Play
Tiempo Libre Jazz Ensemble

Source: J.S. Bach, Sonata No.2 for Solo Violin in A-, BWV1003, 2.Fuga

Play
Itzhak Perlman Violin

Adaptation: 3.Air on a G String (Bolero, based on the Orchestral Suite No.3 in D, BWV1068, 2.Air)

Play
Tiempo Libre Jazz Ensemble

Source: J.S. Bach, Orchestral Suite No.3 in D, BWV1068 (includes 'Air on the G String'), 2.Air ('On the G String')

Adaptation: 4.Clave in C- (Guaguancó, inspired by the Prelude in C-, from the WTC, Book 1, BWV847a)

Play
Tiempo Libre Jazz Ensemble

Source: J.S. Bach, Well-tempered Clavier, Book 1, Prelude No.2 in C-, BWV847a

Adaptation: 5.Gavotte (Son, based on the French Suite No.6 in G, BWV816, 4.Gavotte)

Play
Tiempo Libre Jazz Ensemble

Source: J.S. Bach, French Suite No.5 in G, BWV816, 4.Gavotte

Play
Davitt Moroney Harpsichord

Adaptation: 6.Mi Orisha (6/8 Batá, based on the French Suite No.2 in C-, BWV813, 5.Minuet)

Play
Tiempo Libre Jazz Ensemble

Source: J.S. Bach, French Suite No.2 in C-, BWV813, 5.Minuet 1 and 2)

Adaptation: 7.Minuet in G (Guaguancó, based on Menuet in G from the Anna Magdalena Notebook, BWVAnh.114)

Play
Tiempo Libre Jazz Ensemble

Source: J.S. Bach, Anna Magdalena Notebook, Menuet in G, BWV Anh.114 (attrib. Christian Petzold)

Play
Michael Parloff Flute, Gerald Ranck Harpsichord

Adaptation: 8.Olas de Yemaya (Batá, inspired by the Prelude in C, from the WTC, Book 1)

Play
Tiempo Libre Jazz Ensemble

Source: J.S. Bach, Well-tempered Clavier, Book 1, Prelude No.1 in C, BWV846a

Play
Wanda Landowska Harpsichord

Adaptation: 9.Baquetto con Bajo (Danzón, based on the Cello Suite No.1 in G, BWV1007, 1.Prelude)

Play
Tiempo Libre Jazz Ensemble

Source: J.S. Bach, Cello Suite No.1 in G, BWV1007, 1.Prelude

Adaptation: 10.Timbach (Timba, inspired by the Prelude in D, from the WTC, Book 1, BWV850a)

Play
Tiempo Libre Jazz Ensemble

Source: J.S. Bach, Well-tempered Clavier, Book 1, Prelude No.1 in D, BWV850a

Play
Keith Jarrett Piano

Adaptation: 11.Kyrie (Batá, inspired by the Mass in B Minor, BWV 232, 1.Kyrie)

Play
Tiempo Libre Jazz Ensemble

Source: J.S. Bach, Mass in B-, BWV232, 1a.Kyrie 1

Liner notes by Jorge Gómez, Music Director, Arranger, Tempo Libre

 
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