Orange Then Blue takes a “new wave” and thoroughly modern approach to the traditional big band concept. Their new release “Hold The Elevator” (see April ’99 AAJ review) is ambitious, bold and refreshingly new. The 2 CD set While You Were Out
was released in 1994 on Gunther Schuller’s GM Recordings label.
Over the years OTB have maintained a relatively consistent personnel with changes here and there; however, on While You Were Out trumpeter-composer Dave Douglas joins the already estimable cast of modern jazz stylists. The extremely talented multi-reedman Chris speed contributes a composition titled, “Scatter” which comprises off-center lyricism and features sterling solo efforts from trombonist Rick Stepton and trumpeter Cuong Vu. French Hornist Mark Taylor’s composition “Kamikaze” features a big brass and memorably melodic sound as this arrangement emits notions of triumph. Here, Chris Speed gets some solo space on tenor sax and Mark Taylor blows lyrical lines via his french horn. Saxophonist Matt Darriau who also performs on the alto sax, picks up a reed instrument called the “koval” while arranging a traditional Bulgarian tune, titled “Gankino Horo”. Here, Darriau hones down the ethnocentric and quite appealing thematic statements as this bright and enticing big band arrangement also veers off in contrasting directions. “Gankino Horo” predates many of the concepts put forth by Dave Douglas’ Tiny Bell Trio and Chris Speed’s involvement with the excellent band, “Pachora”. Dave Douglas’ composition, “Slow Boat To Mechanicsville” is a linear and quite complex arrangement. Glistening solos by Douglas (trumpet), Chris Speed (clarinet), Darriau (alto sax), Tim Ray (piano) & Mark Taylor (french horn) provide gobs of excitement along with alternating motifs and forward movement.
Drummer, George Schuller’s “Evanesque” is a fitting and hard driving tribute to the late Gil Evans. On this piece the band capture the spirit of Gil Evans in spectacular and flawless fashion. Blazing solos from Dave Douglas and trombonist Rick Stepton amplify the intensity along with Chris Speed’s climactic soprano sax phrasing and choruses. Another highlight is the Irish jig, “Three Reels & an Air” arranged by Matt Darriau. This is one “swinging” Irish Jig. Darriau once again showcases his versatility through his arsenal of instruments. Here, Darriau performs on the penny whistle and Irish flute.
Thrilling, radically entertaining and artistic. ”While You Were Out” is a blast. This is party music for the modern jazz aficionado. **** ½
Trumpets; Dave Ballou, Cuong Vu, Dave Douglas: Reeds: Matt Darriau, Chris Speed, Bob Bowlby: Trombone; Rick Stepton, Peter Cirell: French Horn; Mark Taylor: Piano & Synths: Tim Ray: Bass; Paul Del Nero: Drums & Percussion; George Schuller: (Additional Musicians) Dumbek: Seido Salifoski: Flute; Darcy Hepner: Percussion; Greg Runions: Cowbell & Egg Shells; Frank Lockwood.