Pianist Chie Sato Roden & chamber jazz ensemble Fire in July recently released of their CD “Streetcar Journey,” featuring the music of beloved American film composer Alex North (1910-1991) and his magnificent, jazz-inflected score to the 1951 classic “A Streetcar Named Desire.”
The CD, now available for purchase on CD Baby, features Chie Sato Roden, piano, and Fire in July: (Jody Redhage cello, voice, compositions, arrangements; Alan Ferber trombone, compositions; Ken Thomson clarinet, bass clarinet; Tom Beckham vibraphone; Fred Kennedy drums & percussion)
The CD release concert took place on Saturday, February 5, 2011 at the Tenri Cultural Institute, located in New York’s Greenwich Village.
Chie Sato Roden, a passionate proponent of new American and Japanese solo piano repertoire, was investigating potential new pieces to program when she happened upon a 30 minute suite of sequences from Alex North’s “Streetcar” film score, arranged for solo piano by North himself. Roden fell in love with the suite of nine sequences—this was moody and evocative music, in turn languid and gritty, and remarkable as the first major film music to pull heavily on the jazz sounds of the south. Roden formulated a vision to expand the 30-minute solo suite to an evening-length performance of varied textures and instrumental colors, by having arrangements of the solo piano sequences made for chamber ensemble, as well as commissioning original compositions inspired by North’s film score and Tennessee Williams’ play as interludes between the North movements. Roden, and composers Alan Ferber and Jody Redhage have worked together to collaboratively create the concert-length project Streetcar Journey, performed live as a multi-media event with projected still images from the classic movie starring Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh. Evoking in turn lazy southern afternoons and languid romance, versus the grit, intensity, and struggle of urban and industrial life in the mid-twentieth century deep south, Streetcar Journey celebrates the genius of one of America’s most beloved playwrights and one of America’s most beloved film score composers, re-imagined through the lens of 21st century chamber jazz performance.
Probably the best known of all the screen adaptations of Tennessee Williams' plays, this is also one of the finest, thanks partly to the intensely claustrophobic hot-house atmosphere created by Elia Kazan's intimate direction, and partly to the young Marlon Brandos trademark blend of subtle detail and charismatic power.