Fan Reviews for Brian McCarthy's "The Better Angels of Our Nature"

Album Cover: The Better Angels of Our NatureFan Reviews for Brian McCarthy's "The Better Angels of Our Nature"

"A Modern Jazz Masterpiece" (5 stars) . 
by Megh2ohouse on July 17, 2017

Brian McCarthy's newest album, "The Better Angels of Our Nature" is a Modern Jazz Masterpiece. The album is a collection of Jazz arrangements of Civil War music.

Horns charge like troops across the battlefield in the title track, "The Better Angels of Our Nature," making way for a mild but masterful flugelhorn solo.

McCarthy demonstrates his compositional prowess in his arrangement of "The Bonnie Blue Flag." The horns flow soft and serene in contrapuntal harmony, driven by the percussive bari sax.

McCarthy's own improvisational skills may be observed on numerous tracks throughout the album. But most impressive, perhaps, is McCarthy's soprano saxophone performance on the song "Shiloh." The soprano soars like a shining light above the fray of the wandering harmonic accompaniment below.

The album's browning jewel, "Battle Hymn of The Old Republic" is a punchy deconstruction of the former tune, with choppy anticipation and syncopation, and playful reharmonization of traditional cadences.

The intent of the album, however, is not lost in the liberties McCarthy has taken. Echoes of "Taps" may be heard in the trumpet melody of the beautiful ballad, "Weeping, Lonely, and Sad." The spirit of patriotism and resilience in the face of adversity may still be recognized in these familiar Civil War songs. McCarthy has produced a triumphant album, with a stellar cast of musicians.

"An inspired project." (5 stars)
by paul sokal on July 29, 2017

This is a beautiful recording. This joining of familiar popular American tunes with inspired compositions and arrangements from a jazz sensibility is refreshing and joyful. Old familiar tunes sound brand new. This is a masterful work and a very musical representation of Lincoln's counsel.

"The Better Angels Of Our Nature" (5 stars)
by Jeff@VTJazz on July 29, 2017

Brian McCarthy's Nonet recording of well known and lesser known Civil War songs is a great example of how a jazz composer arranger can take any melody and transform it into a beautiful and complex jazz arrangement. As Brian stated at a recent Listening Session at Vermont Public Radio, the melody is the handle that anyone can hold onto as they are swept away listening to these beautiful jazz arrangements. I had the good fortune to attend one afternoon of these recording sessions and saw first hand how these great musicians treated these scores with the love and affection that each has for Brian and his wife Linda, the Producer. The result was truly a labor of love. I have listened to this recording many times and continue to be struck by the beauty of these arrangements. I liken the quality to the best arrangements for nonets in jazz led by the likes of Joe Lovano and Lee Konitz. This music will stand the test of time and many enjoyable listenings. I guarantee that the musical value you will receive for your purchase will exceed your investment of time and treasure.