Anders Koppel | Mulberry Street Symphony
You can count the success rate of through-composed symphonies that incorporate in-the-moment jazz improvisation on one hand (two fingers of which belong to Duke Ellington and Gil Evans—a high bar). With Mulberry Street Symphony, featuring the Odense Symphony Orchestra with jazz saxophonist Benjamin Koppel, drummer Brian Blade, and Hudson Valley-based Scott Colley on bass, Danish composer Anders Koppel achieves the nearly impossible, so naturally do the composed and improvised elements fit together. The unifying impulse behind Koppel’s visionary score is the work of Danish-born photographer Jacob Riis, renowned for capturing the triumphs and tragedies of immigrant life in lower Manhattan in the late 19th century. Seven of Riis’s photos lend their titles and inspiration to the seven movements of Koppel’s musical epic, a painterly effort that functions both as an evocative score to Riis’s images and as a symphonic jazz masterpiece.