Carlos Franzetti—The Jazz Kamerata (Chesky) [SACD]

By mere coincidence (or perhaps not), I sat down to review this new hybrid SACD on the rare rainy day in Los Angeles (although not quite as rare this winter). The two were a perfect fit. The Jazz Kamerata has a comfortable warmth about it, inviting you to wrap yourself in it and settle in for a lazy afternoon.

Pianist Carlos Franzetti's arrangements combine jazz improvisation with a classical chamber-music format. Saxophone, piano, flute, and clarinet join an orchestral quintet to re-create works from Miles Davis ("Circle"), Wayne Shorter ("Nefertiti"), Pat Metheny ("Quiet Rising"), Bill Evans ("Very Early"), and Franzetti himself ("Allison's Dance"). This isn't high-energy jazz that feeds off of tension and dissonance—you know, the stuff you have to actively engage in to really appreciate. The Jazz Kamerata is content to let you sit back and simply enjoy how the musicians complement one another.

Logically, the 5.1-channel mix sounds lush and warm, and it doesn't take any chances. Most of the interplay occurs between the front speakers and subwoofer, while the surrounds quietly augment the soundfield. After all, you can't relax when your ears are suddenly pulled to the left surround speaker because of an errant saxophone.

In the accompanying liner notes, Franzetti calls this "a mood album. A disc that, I hope, can put people in a certain place." That it can. It put me in a wonderfully mellow place that made it awfully hard to get up and write this review.