Imani Winds. "Imani Winds." Koch.
This self-titled "African American/Latino" woodwind quintet, with native Pittsburgher Monica Ellis on bassoon, has pushed the genre into new waters. Recently, that landed it a Grammy nod.
"Ravel's "Le Tombeau de Couperin" movement I, from the self-titled Imani Winds CD on Koch Classics.
This disc continues that approach, but it doesn't hurt to show they can perform the classics, too (which they do in concert). Here, the choice is an arrangement of Ravel's "Le Tombeau de Couperin." This is well-played, from exquisite detail-work to sumptuous resonance.
In addition to flutist and composer Valerie Coleman's "Umoja" (originally on Imani's first disc), the disc presents her arrangement of Mongo Santamaria's "Afro Blue" and French hornist Jeff Scott's jaunty "Titilato."
Adding to this new rep are two Piazzolla works (the well-traveled "Oblivion" and "Fuga e Misterio") and Mario Lavista's "Cinco Danzas Breves."
I have always felt that you shouldn't get sidetracked by Imani's repertoire or its informal (and vivacious) concertizing to the point that you miss its outstanding musicianship. Imani has attained the sort of ensemble and musical comradeship usually reserved for long-standing string quartets.
Post-Gazette classical music critic Andrew Druckenbrod can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1750.