John Ellis (Quartet) – Carmen In Jazz (ENG review)

Blue Room Music LLC – Street Date December 22th 2023
John Ellis (Quartet) – Carmen In Jazz

When one has been immersed in classical music from early childhood in Europe, many of us have experienced an overdose of Georges Bizet’s Carmen, whose great-grandson directed a music conservatory where I played my first (sometimes off-key) notes. So, I had forgotten about this work by my fellow countryman, genuinely hoping never to hear it again, preferring other works by the composer, such as his Symphony in C, which no one talks about today.
However, John Ellis, a genius instrumentalist and composer, has taken on Bizet’s Carmen, embarking on an extravagant interpretation that borders on genius, making this work palatable again, which I had cursed for hearing it too much. It is, in fact, a jazz reinterpretation with sumptuous arrangements and a dream team of musicians:
John Ellis – Saxophones & Bass Clarinet,
Gary Versace – Piano,
Reuben Rogers – Bass,
Jason Marsalis – Drums.
All songs composed by Georges Bizet – All songs arranged by John Ellis.
A true stroke of genius, Ellis only takes a few themes from Carmen, undoubtedly the most well-known, and transposes them into his own universe with a finesse and delicacy that Georges Bizet himself would likely have appreciated.
Carmen in Jazz began as a commission from the St. Barts Music Festival, a high-level classical gathering with a touch of jazz. Ellis, hailing from rural North Carolina, was a regular guest and a celebrated artist whose musical maturation unfolded in New Orleans. The French and Spanish cultural nexus, so essential to the Crescent City, is, of course, a primary ingredient in Carmen from start to finish.
Certainly, some purists who insist that music cannot transition from one world to another may find fault, but others will be delighted to see Bizet’s work in such respectable hands that do not distort the original. It is more of an extension of the pieces, a vision from another composer who was able to discern in Bizet’s works an openness allowing for this extension.
The editors of Bayou Blue Radio and Paris-Move had immense pleasure rediscovering Carmen in this jazz version, and we hope the same for you.

Thierry De Clemensat
USA correspondent – Paris-Move
Editor in chief Bayou Blue Radio, Bayou Blue News

PARIS-MOVE, December 15th 2023


To buy this album

1. All Up In The Aisles 08:47
2. Trash Bash 06:37
3. Dream And Mosh 08:36
4. I Miss You Molly 07:23
5. Three-Legged Tango In Jackson Square 06:13
6. Tattooed Teen Waltzes With Grandma 08:49
7. Zydeco Clowns On The Lam 05:41
8. Prom Song 06:09
9. Dance Like There’s No Tomorrow 06:46