Reviewed by Katherine Karlson

The crossover of classical music and chamber jazz was never better developed than by the late French composer Claude Bolling.  Last night (Nov. 12), a talented group of local musicians gave the audience at Endicott’s Cider Mill Stage a sense of the drive, complexity and joyful genius of that hybrid form.

It is not surprising that group, led by recorder player Jeffrey Wahl, comprise the Binghamton Baroque Orchestra. Each musician knows well the intricate contrapuntal elegance of baroque music and can develop those themes in various jazz styles, whether swing, boogie-woogie, or blues. Bolling worked extensively with classical musicians, including flutist Jean-Pierre Rampal, to explore the range and possibility of new expression through the genre of which he was a master.

The introductory number, “Baroque & Blue,” did just that, as Wahl’s sopranino recorder invited keyboard player John Isenberg to join him in a musical conversation. Isenberg replied with stride rhythms that ended with a lively syncopation. Another Baroque-inspired piece, “Allègre,” gave those two instruments the opportunity to weave an intricate tapestry of tune and rhythm to which the drum and bass added their respective punctuation. Drummer Alex VanTassel and bassist Tyler Vallet brought their considerable talents to showcasing the Count Basie-like riffs that Bolling most admired and emulated in his compositions.

Bolling wrote scores for more than 100 films, and the “Love Theme” from California Suite describes the roller coaster ride of that emotion through the recorder and the dreamlike progression of the keyboard that sounds like a harp.

The musical dialogue between instruments was always delightful and engaging; the individual voices chase each other, play tag and then scamper off. They provide an ever-changing kaleidoscope of colors and patterns as the music takes listeners to Brazil in a bluesy haze or Indonesia with its off-kilter rhythms.

The second act brought guitarist Burt Mueller on stage. He played with the cool confidence of a true jazz artist as the group performed selections from Bolling’s Concerto for Classic Guitar & Jazz Piano. The city-themed tunes of “Chicago” and “New York” were familiar yet offered surprising variations, just as if one wandered into a new, unknown neighborhood of each metropolis. The treatments of established musical forms, such as the canon, madrigal and rococo, were all handled with faithful authenticity. The “Canon,” for example, gave each instrument the opportunity to imitate an identical melody in a playful, intricate fashion that respected the original form.

The successful hybrid of classical music and jazz takes off for a memorable trip through time and space, thanks to the gifted performance of these local musicians.

IF YOU GO: The Music of Claude Bolling will continue at 8 p.m. today (Nov. 13) at the Cider Mill Stage, 2 Nanticoke Ave., Endicott. Tickets are $15; visit