Recent years have seen the manufacture of many quasi-jazz pieces designed to help classical musicians appeal to the crossover crowd. Clarinetist Richard Stoltzman doesn't need that kind of assistance. Friday night in Royce Hall, he turned to the real thing, backed by the UCLA Jazz Band.
Stoltzman has a credible jazz history, as well as a comprehensive technique. He appeared comfortable fronting a big band, but then Stoltzman gives everything he plays a natural swing.
For two of the numbers, Stoltzman had the composers on hand to conduct. Frank Bennett's "Ticker Tape Parade" and Clare Fischer's "Stoltz" are energetic, driving ensemble pieces. "Stoltz" is based melodically on the last of Stravinsky's Three Pieces for Solo Clarinet, which Stoltzman had played as an introduction.
The UCLA group performed as strongly for Bennett and Fischer as for their regular leader, Gary Gray. Les Hooper's "Licks and Tricks" allowed welcome solo chances for Eric Amesbury and Dave Bouchez, saxes, and trumpeter Chuck Petersen. Pianist Phil Clark had trouble making his grand heard, particularly when joined by Stoltzman's amplified clarinet.