Eight players does not a big band make, but The New World Jazz Composers Octet is a light ensemble offering an assertive sound reminiscent of a big band production. Boasting a cadre of educators and first-rate musicians, the group manages powerful orchestrations employing an exciting horn section, lively percussion and blistering piano work from Tim Ray in its aggressive approach to the music. Breaking News is the Octet's third album, revealing a program of charging hard bop featuring nine compositions from members of Boston's Berklee College of Music such as Ted Pease, Matthew Nicholl and Richard Lowell. Trumpeter Walter Platt ...read more
Established in 2000, in the spirit of the Mingus Jazz Workshop, the New World Jazz Composer's Octet sounds more like an orchestra than a group of eight musicians. On its third release, Breaking News, the octet showcases six contemporary composers affiliated with the ensemble. The music is intricate and well-constructed, with hints of Latin on a few of the tracks, including Matthew Nicholl's Poco Picasso," which features a complex piano solo from Tim Ray that nevertheless stays within a safe distance of the melody, and a similarly constructed one by trumpeter Walter Platt. The tune's joyous spirit ...read more
The New World Jazz Composers Octet thrives on the old school idea of jazz composition as conduit to great jazz performance, and its third album, Breaking News, puts theory to practice from the outset with Matthew Nicholl's Poco Picasso." The jutting melodic angles and tightly orchestrated front line arrest on their own merits, while also spurring pianist Tim Ray into a well-constructed, swinging improvisation. The composers featured on Breaking News also avoid the labyrinthine chord progressions and tortuous formal experiments that become ends in themselves in so much contemporary writing. The swirling textures and intricate layers that ...read more
The best of jazz generally ensures that there is a leader, a composition, or at least an agreed upon theme that holds the work together, and herein lies the conundrum of The New World Jazz Composers Octet's Transitions.Musical egalitarianism is one of the hallmarks of jazz--the notion that everyone has an opportunity to make their personal statement, and that compositions should leave spaces for those statements, has been at the core of the craft since Duke Ellington started writing songs with the strengths of his particular soloists in mind. But there was always Duke to bind the music ...read more
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