Pierre Dørge’s well–upholstered New Jungle Orchestra plays world music, and does so quite well. It hardly ever plays Jazz, at least not in the customary sense of the word (although some improvisation is evidently involved). So if it’s straight–arrow Jazz you crave, look elsewhere. What you’ll find on Zig Zag Zimfoni
is a series of musical sketches that summon forth in their best moments images of the enigmatic Middle East with its vast storehouse of evocative melodies and emphatic rhythms. Dørge is, I believe, Danish, but one would swear that there must be some Arab blood flowing in his veins — and perhaps some Latin as well, hence the colorful “Zig Zag Zalsa” (which zigs a few times when it should zag, and vice versa, but that’s fairly typical of Dørge’s elliptical compositions). He wrote nine of the eleven selections on the NJO’s sixteenth album; the others are Jakob Mygind’s “Kwandu Wedding” and pianist Irene Becker’s “Night in Klung Kung.” To me, Dørge and the orchestra are at their best when they are most blatantly Middle Eastern (“Arab Klap,” “Once in a Blue Moon,” “Bahrain”) or African (“Kwandu Wedding”). Perhaps it’s the music itself, but there’s something there that seems to inspire everyone and causes them, figuratively, to dance through each song. “Night in Klung Kung” has its pleasant moments too but is on the whole less successful, as are Dørge’s “Primus Amor” and “Ellingtonian Space Is the Place” (a nod to Sun Ra?). The closest the ensemble comes to essaying tried–and–true Jazz is “Hat Hut Hothouse,” and as if to atone for that aberration, Dørge closes the album with the frankly bizarre “I Sama–Brikama,” which consists of nearly a minute and a half of droning (bass clarinet? it’s hard to tell) accompanied by roosters crowing. While I’m no great fan of world music, I must concede that Dørge and the NJO keep it entertaining, at least most of the time. If the Middle East and / or Africa fascinate you, here’s music that should enhance your level of interest.
Contact:Stunt Records, 29 W. Maple Avenue, Bellmawr, NJ 08031 (phone 856–931–6441; fax 856–931–6445. www.sundance.dk