by Robert Leeper
Photo credit: Broadway Chamber Players
For the musicians that haunt the orchestra pits of some of New York's biggest theaters, versatility is key: These pros read like the New York Phil, swing like the Jazz Standard, and are constantly learning pieces on the fly for harried directors and hard-nosed producers. These characteristics are becoming increasingly common among chamber groups as well, making Broadway Chamber Players an organically occurring group in the New York chamber-music scene.
Monday's performance brought four of Broadway's top woodwind doublers to St. Malachy's – The Actors' Chapel for a program dubbed "Black and Blue"—named after the Broadway musical celebrating Jazz Age music and dance in Paris between the world wars. It was a promising performance and hopefully the sign of a group capable of equally polished and developed programming in its future. The loose conglomeration of pieces displayed a wide range of talents and areas of interests, but the rapid transitions from one piece to the next left little space for reflection during a piece and even less time to sink into any one mood.
The highlight of the evening was no doubt Billy Kerr's evocative arrangement of Billy Strayhorn's "Lush Life" for saxophone quartet. The impressionistic, chromatic musings were enhanced by the saxophones timbres, which melded effortlessly into one another and added a haunting new angle to the beloved classic.