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  • Jonathan Widran

SCHAPIRO 17, New Shoes: Kind of Blue at 60

Now over 60 years since its release, Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue is hailed as a masterpiece of not just jazz but all modern music. In addition to being the bestselling jazz album of all time, it ranked #1 on the BBC’s 50 greatest jazz albums poll in 2016 and #12 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 50 greatest albums of all time.

The fact that it was once featured in VH1’s “100 Greatest Rock n Roll Albums” list seems unusual until it quickly hits you that Miles was jazz’s supreme rebel, always pushing conventions and evolving with the times. If you need further proof of how Miles could rock, check out guitarist Sebastian Noelle’s blistering solo on the explosive re-imagining of the iconic “Flamenco Sketches” by Schapiro17, a powerhouse orchestra driven by the dynamic vision of composer/conductor/arranger Jon Schapiro.

Perhaps calling the ensemble’s expansive, wildly fanciful, purpose-driven tribute New Shoes: Kind of Blue “epic” would leave us scrambling for a loftier adjective for the original work it re-imagines. Schapiro leads his alternately simmering and soaring brass musicians and rhythmic section and an array of off the charts soloists (most notably, of course, trumpeters Bryan Davis, Andy Gravish, Eddie Allen and Noyes Bartholomew) through a two disc set featuring the original pieces refashioned for big band set amidst a series of rhythmically varied, mood swinging Schapiro originals with titles riffing off the anagram “Boiled Funk” – including “Foiled Bunk” (feel the whimsical spirit?), “Boiled Funk 2: Dark of Night” and “Boiled Funk 4: Old Feet, New Shoes.”

More than simply a reinvention of the Miles classic, the 12 track collection introduces Schapiro’s own genius to a larger audience and sets the standard for all jazz tribute project to come.

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