Either Orchestra: Afro-cubism (2003)
Either/Orchestra’s eighth release is a concise study in modern Afro-Cuban composition, and a sister disc to Neo-Modernism, due out later this year. The material on both albums was recorded at the same time, but saxophonist, bandleader, and Accurate label head Russ Gershon discerned two distinct themes and thus decided to issue two separate albums.
Afro-Cubism contains six tracks and runs only 41 minutes, but it isn’t harmed by its brevity. The 10-piece unit sounds radiant and reflective in this Latin mode, particularly on Gershon’s “Soul Song”, notable in part for the icy-cool sheen of Greg Burk’s Fender Rhodes. Burk, whose own album Checking In (Soul Note) provides its own copious rewards, joins the E/O for the first time here and contributes “Look to the Lion”, a piece that begins with foreboding rubato textures but soon undergoes a remarkable change of mood. Two additional Gershon originals lead off: first the mellow, luxuriant “Harvey’s Entrance,” then the brisk, Mingusian 6/8 vehicle “Blue Attitude.” Trombonist Joel Yennior shines on “Yezamed Yebaed,” a song by the Ethiopian Teshome Meteku, arranged by Gershon to include continual changes in tempo and feel (the band’s previous release, More Beautiful Than Death, also integrated Ethiopian influences). Finally, Gershon and percussionist Vicente Lebron collaborate on an arrangement of “Don’t Bother Me”, the late George Harrison’s first-ever contribution to the Beatles repertoire. The take ends with the whole band vocalizing in Spanish over a lighthearted salsa bounce.
Track Listing: Harvey's Entrance, Blue Attitude, Soul Song, Look to the Lion, Yezamed Yebaed, Don't Bother Me/No Me Molesta
Personnel: Tom Halter, trumpet; Colin Fisher, trumpet; Joel Yennior, trombone; Jeremy Udder, alto sax, flute; Russ Gershon, tenor sax; Charlie Kolhase, baritone sax; Gregory Burke, piano; Rick McLaughlin, bass; Harvey Wirht, drums, cymbals, cowbells; Vincente Lebron, congas, bongos, timbales