Friday, August 13, 2010

Either/Orchestra - Mood Music For Time Travellers (Accurate Records, 2010)

It is difficult keeping a large jazz ensemble going in these tough economic times, but the Either/Orchestra has been been keeping the progressive big band flame burning for nearly twenty five years. They have also drawn on a wide range of influences and ideas over that time from the jazz big bands of the past to music from different parts of the world. On this new album, they take a different path, exploring Latin rhythms along with elements of lounge music and exotica, that gives the music an interesting and unusual feel. "The (One of a Kind) Shimmy)" opens the album with a medium tempo strut, the horns swirling along. Lithe and light saxophone and trumpet are featured before moving back to a call and response section. Thick bass and piano pave the way for "Beaucoups Kookoo" giving the music a slinky Latin groove. Deep saxophone builds a patient solo over a nice percussion groove as horns riff seductively underneath. Trumpet sneaks in for a spare and patient solo before the piano and bass return for a wrap up. "Coolocity" features subtle percussion and horns riffing at a medium pace. The horns and the hand percussion give the music a cinematic quality, reminiscent of something that would have been used in a 1970's crime drama. "Portrait Of Lindsey Schust" is a lengthy performance that builds gently with probing horns developing a colorful textured setting. Tenor saxophone and organ build to a subtle and thoughtful solo, even including a brief nod to John Coltrane's A Love Supreme. Swirling lightly toned horns open "Rapa Loca" and build to a performance that uses dynamics well to develop swells of music. "Thirty Five" has a slow and mysterious feel with yearning piano and drums. The horns build majestically as the saxophones probe slyly. Piano develops darkly moving soundscapes as well. The 70's live again in "The Petrograd Revision" which has funky organ and bass setting a swinging groove. A nice alto saxophone interlude cuts through, before trumpet takes over, backed by the full weight of the band playing an interesting arrangement. Things slow back down with "Suriname" with gentle piano and percussion. The subtle and quiet music builds melodically culminating in a tenor saxophone solo over strutting horns. "History Lesson" ends the album with piano setting ripples of music that the horns react to and accent. Tenor saxophone is again featured in a thoughtful and well paced solo that is encouraged and framed by the dynamic riffing of the other horns. The band has hit on a winning formula that explains their longevity. They continually make their music fresh and interesting by finding new challenges to explore. The use of the disparate elements that the band draws on allows them to expand their palate and offers different textures and hues that a large ensemble can develop and explore. Mood Music for Time Travellers -

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