Format: COMPACT DISC
Navona Records proudly presents Dress Code, the debut release from Colorado-based string ensemble Altius Quartet. Comprised of violinists Joshua Ulrich and Andrew Giordano, violist Andrew Krimm, and cellist Zachary Reaves, the quartet's core mission is to strive for universality in their music and communicate directly with their listeners. It's this outlook that led to Dress Code's eclectic blend of genres, with works from eighteenth-century classical repertoire to 1980's pop being presented both on their own and combined in new arrangements. Altius attributes the album's appeal for a wide range of musical palates to "each work being derived from a universal source of invention and innovation, representative of the times in history from whence they came." Interspersed between the album's more contemporary arrangements are movements of two classical works from vastly different eras. Drawing from the classical period themes of Franz Josef Haydn's Quartet in C Major, Op. 74 No. 1 and the ragtime sensibilities of William Bolcom's Three Ghost Rags, the quartet emulates the works' playfulness in a way which makes for seamless transitions between their more mainstream song selections. Reaves provides fresh arrangements of these popular staples, which include a medley of Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" and "Kashmir"; Ben E. King's "Stand By Me"; and a-ha's "Take on Me." Perhaps the most unique arrangement among these newer pieces is Take It, an unlikely pairing of Michael Jackson's "Beat It" and Dave Brubeck's "Take Five." The result is a bold endeavor which pays equal homage to both songs while creating an invigorating new composition in the process; one that effortlessly combines the appeal of classical, jazz and pop. Dress Code offers much in the way of musical treats, all of which are bolstered by Altius' proficient playing and clear cohesion as an ensemble. And even after the album concludes, perceptive listeners might even discover some hidden gems from the quartet's playbook lying just beneath the surface.