Schapiro 17 celebrates Davis’ “Kind of Blue” in unique ways

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Jazz ensemble Schapiro 17 is among the performers who have honored the 60th anniversary of Miles Davis’ “Kind Of Blue,” which was marked in 2019. But the 17-piece ensemble led by Jon Schapiro takes Davis’ work and makes them new and inventive pieces that allow listeners to recall the classic works that inspired them. Titled, “New Shoes: Kind of Blue At 60,” the recording is full of inspired and spirited songs that will likely make new and veteran jazz fans seek out Davis’ work.

A bit about Jon Schapiro

Schapiro is the conductor, arranger and composer for the group. He graduated from Brown University and earned a master’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music. He also studied at New York University with Jim McNeely and Dinu Ghezzo. Schapiro is a member of the BMI Jazz Composers’ Workshop and has been a longtime professor at Yeshiva University. He formed Schapiro 17 in the fall of 2012. The group’s appearances in venues around New York City are always major events.

The sound of “New Shoes: Kind Of Blue At 60” by Schapiro 17

Probably the first thing listeners will notice are the titles. The title “Boiled Funk” is re-used with numbers to note the different versions, or re-arranged to make the title “Foiled Bunk.” For audiences paying attention, those titles are the re-arranged letters of the title “Kind Of Blue,” originally by Davis. These titles are used for the seven songs that are unique to Schapiro 17, but that are still intended to pay tribute to Davis’ work.

The recording kicks off with the full sound of “Boiled Funk.” Schapiro 17 sounds like a lively ensemble of more than a dozen players on this song. Even without knowing the group’s affinity for Davis’ music, listeners can appreciate the jazz qualities present on this song. The ensemble has a way of playing that makes audiences feel like they are right there with them. In this way, Davis’ work remains new for a variety of listeners.

The first two tracks are original to Schapiro 17. The third song, “So What” is a Davis original. By the time listeners arrive at this point of the first disc, they are committed to the sound of Schapiro 17 and can hardly wait to hear what comes next.

Schapiro 17 plays 12 tracks over two discs to create “New Shoes: Kind Of Blue At 60.” The work is exciting and is a great escape into the music that generations of fans and musicians came to love, along with a handful of originals that show the masterful playing of the musicians that must be heard to be appreciated.

“New Shoes: Kind Of Blue At 60” by Schapiro 17 will be available April 3, 2020. It is available from Amazon, CDBaby, iTunes and www.summitrecords.com.

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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana who lives in New York City where she studies creative nonfiction at Columbia University. She has BA and MA degrees in English from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and an MFA in Fiction from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her research interests include popular music and culture, 1920s jazz, and blues, confessional poetry, and the rhetoric of fiction. She has presented at numerous conferences in rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. Her creative works have appeared in Tenth Muse, Apostrophe, The Flying Island, Scavenger's Newsletter and elsewhere. She has won university-based awards for creative work and literary criticism.

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