Darryl Brenzel
Gig Seeker Pro

Darryl Brenzel

Frederick, Maryland, United States | SELF

Frederick, Maryland, United States | SELF
Band Jazz


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Review of "Pentasphere""

"Brenzel is a fresh voice on alto" - Cadence Magazine

"Review of "Re-write of spring""

Mobtown Modern delivers sizzling jazz version of Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring"

The modest repertoire niche of classical pieces transformed into jazz vehicles got substantially enriched Wednesday night when Mobtown Modern premiered Darryl Brenzel's sizzling version of Stravinsky's revolutionary ballet score, "The Rite of Spring," with a kick-ass band. This was, on many levels, an exceptional event, and it was good to see a sizable turnout at the Metro Gallery for it. (I wonder how many of the people there were fans of the Stravinsky original; I wonder, too, if that matters.)
For me, much of the fun was discovering how Brenzel managed to preserve the rich flavor of the "Rite," the familiar harmonic tang and rhythmic punch. If anything, he may have taken on too much -- his arrangement is quite longer than the original, adding up to an hour and change. There were a couple times during the performances when I felt the coolness factor starting to wear off, the tautness starting to loosen, but only a couple., and the feeling quickly passed
In the end, this turned out to be high-class jazz (and some rock), a brilliant combination of musical imagination, technical talent and chutzpah.
The Frederick-based Brenzel did not merely transcribe notes from symphony orchestra to a 17-piece ensemble of saxes, trumpets, trombones, guitar, piano, bass and drums to create his "Rite of Swing." He treated the 14 titled passages in Stravinsky's through-composed score as
separate numbers. Each one retained characteristics of the source material, from intricate chordal writing to tricky rhythmic jolts, but also allowed room for thematic development and improvisation. (Someone at the Frederick News-Post dubbed Brenzel's work as "The Re-Write of Spring" -- I wish I had thought of that.)
Several sections, notably "Spring Rounds," "Mystic Circles of the Young Girls" and "Ritual Action of the Elders," really hit the spot. The effect was uncanny, at once fully evocative of the "Rite" we know, and yet totally fresh in color and atmosphere. The very end of the piece -- the unexpected, wispy woodwind solo just before the last whomping chord -- didn't translate so well into the new version; I wanted something with a bit more impact and finality.
But that was a minor thing, especially given all the energy pouring out from the Mobtown Jazz Orchestra. (You might spot those same players in the Jazz Ambassadors of the U.S. Army Field Band. Brenzel, who recently retired from that group, joined in on sax for the "Rite" finale.) There might have been one off-kilter entrance, but the sheer tightness of the playing was still very impressive, the expressive force behind it even more so.
A recording is planned. It should be a knockout.
Meanwhile, all you folks at symphony orchestras worrying about how to engage audiences and liven up concert formats -- here's a pitch: Program the original "Rite of Spring" on the first half, then put Brenzel's version on the second. Such a double-barrel roof-raiser sure sounds awesome to me.
- Baltimore Sun

"Review of "Re-write of Spring""

It Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t Got That Ritual Sacrifice: Mobtown Modern’s “The Rite of Swing,” Metro Gallery, May 12, 2010

When considering “The Rite of Spring,“ fans of classical music still tend to identify with the folks who rioted at its premiere, getting riled up in the blood by its blasting dissonances, its emphatically unpredictable rhythms, and the evergreen subject matter of pagans trying to win the favor of their gods. This omits one important fact: Igor Stravinsky filled “The Rite of Spring” with good tunes. As someone who spent most of his college years whistling the little whirling tune that follows the stabbing arrhythmic chords in the second section, I can assure you that this is true.
At the invitation of Mobtown Modern curator Brian Sacawa, Darryl Brenzel took a look at the “Rite” through the eyes of someone without classical training and saw tunes galore, ripe for recasting in Brenzel’s home idiom: the modern jazz orchestra. In the perhaps-inevitably titled “The Rite of Swing,” which premiered on Wednesday night at Baltimore’s Metro Gallery, Brenzel fitted phrasing and harmonies to his idiom, tossed in opportunities for solos, and freely transformed and extended the original whenever the spirit moved him. The result prompted continual smiles from Rite-o-philes hearing old faves in a new context, but would appeal to anyone with a pulse and an adventuresome ear — Brenzel’s “Rite of Swing” cooks harder than Emeril on meth.
How can I say with such certainty that Brenzel was unencumbered by classical training? Because he was kind enough to write a blog about this whole process that explained virtually anything a listener could want to know, all before the show. (Side note: How much would you pay to read a blog by J.S. Bach about this exploration of the art of fugue that he’s been working on? I’d be eating Ramen and Wonder Bread for months, methinks.) The blog might even help to sell a dubious “Rite”-o-phile on the idea: check out this bar-by-bar explanation of how he approached the introduction.
And indeed, the “Rite” stuff remained — that bassoon solo doesn’t go away — but enjoying Brenzel’s new colors, textures, and melodic approaches soon overtook the game of Find the Original Melody, especially when saxophonist Patrick Shook delivered the first solo of the “Swing.” As described in the blog, Brenzel here led into the solo with Stravinsky’s material, so the progression felt organic; any qualms that one might have about scribbling on Igor’s masterwork were answered by Shook’s playing, as he found a seam in the harmonies and explored it melodically.
The second section, “Dances of the Young Girls,” brought to mind the fact that many of Stravinsky’s contemporaries considered jazz to be vulgar music for primitive folks and showed another strategy of Brenzel’s: to capture some of the rhythmic energy in “Spring” by rendering it with emphasis rather than surprise. So the stabbing arrhythmic chords mentioned earlier, which come over equally accented chords in “Spring,” found drummer Todd Harrison kicking our a hard rock-style 4/4 rhythm. The brass hits for the arrhythmic stabbing chords felt less arrhythmic and more groping towards a dance rhythm, somehow, somewhere. Also Stephen Lesche’s electric guitar sounded really cool spiking already spiky harmonies.
The main objection a classical purist (not me) might have to Brenzel’s work is that he ignores Stravinsky’s dramatic arc; Brenzel treats the sections as 15 separate pieces, each with their own character, not necessarily connected to those around it. On Wednesday, Brenzel said the title “Ritual of the Rival Tribes” reminded him of something Wayne Shorter would have written, so it gets a Shorter-esque treatment, with close swaggering chords over its tricky rhythm. “Glorification of the Chosen One” led Brenzel to the O.G. of classical adaptation for big band, Duke Ellington, and the terrifying horn whoops of the original become party-starting whoops in Brenzel’s score, differing mainly in the end to which their excitement is directed.
Conducting as well, Brenzel praised the Mobtown Jazz Orchestra lavishly, and deservedly so. To begin “Spring Rounds,” the saxes and reeds fluttered under sustained chords in the horns, a texture that both recalled Stravinsky and had a ravishing appeal of its own; Brenzel’s arrangement then packed a lot of activity into a short period, and the orchestra’s keen sense of rhythm had me whipsawed at the twists and turns. Brenzel decided to open up Stravinsky’s brief “The Sage” section with some soloing from the bass, the “low, steady voice of wisdom” in Brenzel’s plan, and Jeff Lopez’s lyrical playing over hushed ostinatos made you glad for the dilation. In “Dance of the Earth,” the rhythmic energy of the original straightened out a little bit, but became more intense in exchange, with the orchestra’s fortissimo brass hits shaking you down to the ground. (Here, especially, I was grateful for the modest confines of the Metro Gallery. The stage couldn’t even hold the whole band (piano and guitar had to sit off to the left), and the crowding made you feel it when the band got rolling.)
To introduce the finale, “Sacrificial Dance (The Chosen One),” Brenzel said, “We’re gonna have some fun as we take this out,” and he made good on his word by grafting James Brown-style guitar and drums sections onto Stravinsky’s shifting rhythms to make, improbably, something you could shake your butt to. (Brenzel even picked up his sax and played the Maceo Parker role.) Here was as far from Stravinsky as you could get; and yet, while I drove home, both the original and its swinging child mingled in my brain, each excited by the other. That’s the best kind of arrangement, and I hope to be able to hear it again soon.
- DMV Classical


Darryl Brenzel-Pentasphere
Rainbows-Buddy Charlton
Christmas Time Rocks-Danan Healy
Legacy of Mary Lou Williams - Jazz Ambassadors
Legacy of Stan Kenton - Jazz Ambassadors
Legacy of Sammy Nestico - Jazz Ambassadors
Legacy of Hank Levy - Jazz Ambassadors
Legacy of Benny Carter - Jazz Ambassadors
Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy -Jazz Ambassadors
A Change In The Weather - Jazz Ambassadors
Prospects - Jazz Ambassadors
In Concert - Jazz Ambassadors
Jeremy - Jeremy Scott Ragsdale
Mi Alma Latina - US Army Field Band



I've been a full time professional musician since 1979. I've had a 26 year career in the military with the Army Jazz Ambassadors. As a free-lance musicians I have played saxophone with acts such as The Nelson Riddle Orchestra, The Four Tops, Chris Isaak, The Beach Boys, Little Antony, The Jimmy Dorsey Orchstra. I have led my own trio, quartet and quintet in the DC/Baltimore area for the greater part of the last 25 years. I am a publisher composer and arranger, having written more than 100 works for big band.