ClassicsOnline Home » FLORIAN ROSS BRASS PROJECT: Lilacs and Laughter
By Roger Viner
"Florian Ross has assembled an impressive twelve-piece band and created a musical tapestry of outstanding scope and depth with this project. The all-brass ensemble with rhythm section has an excellent balance and gorgeous horn sound utilizing the full dynamic range of the group. From the opening notes it demonstrates a full palate of brass tones and textures with a chorale played in a traditional vein before adopting a rhythmic up-tempo treatment of the same motif in the fanfare...This disk amply illustrates further delectable directions that a large ensemble such as this can take in the creation of new jazz forms."
By James D. Armstrong, Jr.
"In Lilacs and Laughter, young German pianist and composer Florian Ross and his colleagues achieve a remarkable creative balance between adventurous written forms and extemporization. This highly atypical expanded ensemble wisely avoids conventional arrangements and chord-spelling exercises in favor of Ross' thirteen highly challenging originals, which are consistently evocative, atmospheric, and memorable. The ensemble's consistent use of space in lieu of strongly defined chords results in tremendous tonal freedom relative to defined structures. Not excessively chromatic, nor overly concerned with metrics, this very forward-looking music bears witness to the fact that the future of Jazz lies in continued exploration. Original voices in composition are very rare, and Florian Ross stands among them."
There are plenty of virtuoso young lions in jazz, each hailed as the next great instrumentalist. But where is the next great composer/arranger/bandleader like Oliver Nelson, Gil Evans and George Russell? Their modern heir is Florian Ross.
The 28 year-old German-born Ross, through his front two releases on Naxos Jazz, has quickly established himself as an exciting new jazz composer. He certainly has the accolades to back that claim. He was the winner of the 2nd Thad Jones Competition in Denmark this year. He has also won the HR-Big Band Composition Award in 1998, the International Composition Award in Monaco 1997, the BBC Big Band Composition Award in 1996, the 1993 Jazz Piano Award of the Cologne Conservatoire and numerous other prizes in his short career.
His first Naxos critically-acclaimed release, Seasons and Places from 1998, was voted by BBC Music Magazine as their Record of The Month for June 1999, while his follow-up, Suite For Soprano Saxophone And Strings, gained further jazz credibility as it featured the great reedman Dave Liebman serving as soloist.
With his latest release, Lilacs And Laughter, Florian Ross goes one step further demonstrating his versatility in yet another different setting - this time tackling the challenge of a brass-oriented project.
Before writing the Brass Project Ross listened to the music of British mining bands and composers like Bliss, Elgar and Walton. But his invigorating compositions are inspired from as diverse sources as Hollywood films and a stay in Oklahoma as an exchange student. They are real compositions too - full of narrative structure and expressive arrangements. Building from a variety of vamps to full-fledge narratives conveying melancholic moods and dramatic gestures, there is also much improvisational space for his band of exceptional European players. A striking and intense work, and Florian Ross’ most impressive to date.
Currently, Ross is residing in New York on a scholarship by the Eubie Blake Fund, to study Jazz-Composition with Jim McNeely and take part in the BMI Jazz Workshop. In his native home of Germany, Ross studied at the Cologne Conservatoire with John Taylor. In his sho9rt career, he has also written for numerous international ensembles including the Metropole Orchestra (Hilversum), the Brussels Jazz Orchestra, the Dejan Terzic Sunday Night Orchestra, and the Vancouver Jazz Orchestra.
But with his astonishing new work, Lilacs And Laughter, Florian Ross demonstrates joins the rank of great jazz ensemble leaders. Now, it's up to the world to catch with him.
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