William Grant Still, STILL: In Memoriam / Africa / Symphony No 1, ‘Afro-American’

Anastasia Tsioulcas

By Anastasia Tsioulcas

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

The enormously talented composer William Grant Still (1895-1978) easily coursed the boundaries between concepts of "classical" music and "jazz." Still, who was of African, Indian, Scottish, Spanish and Irish descent, was a student of George Chadwick and Edgar Varese, but also worked as an arranger for such jazz greats as WC Handy and Artie Shaw. His inventiveness, brilliance and idiomatic ease are striking; regrettably, his music is woefully under-represented in both concert settings and on recordings. As satisfying, persuasive and enjoyable performances by Arkansas 'Fort Smith Symphony and conductor John Jeter attest, that oversight should be rectified.