The Zurich Jazz Orchestra (ZJO), under the leadership of multiple reedist Steffen Schorn, is a colorful listening experience on their 2021 release Dedications. The arrangements weave woodwind pastels over backdrops of the darker hues of the trombones and bursts of bright primaries from the trumpets.
Schorn took the leadership role of the ZJO in 2018, presenting his Three Pictures (Mons Records). He pushes his concepts of complex arrangements that mix jazz and classical traditions with exuberant innovation further on Dedications, beginning with "The Mad Code," a composition which could serve as a brief soundtrack to an aerial view of a bustling citydarting vehicle traffic rolling on a fast forward with skittering pedestrians surging through intersections and jaywalking jerky-legged in mid block through the mass of cars. It is a busy arrangement, sounding as if it is using two dozen different types of reedsoverall, Schorn himself plays about a dozen different woodwinds on this album.
"Monsieur PF" features a sense of whimsy riding the waves of a Caribbean groove. It contains a freneticism similar to that of the opener, with a beautifully jumbled arrangement of reeds and brass, full of mini-solos all arounda sophistication with a sense of humor tune.
"Martha" is dedicated to Schorn's grandmother. Listed as a "collective solo," it has a sense of fractured majesty interspersed with a gorgeous delicacy of expression tinted with sadness.
The final tune, "Walzer," presented in three parts totalling to a thirteen minute running time, features luminescent melodic layerings and wavering soundscapes, and a shift to the orchestra's deep low end, leading to a segment of blaring fury which segues into an intimate chamber music mode, closing an album which is by turns fun-filled, erudite, cacophonous and dreamily and unconventionally elegant.
The Mad Code; Monsieur PF; So Eine...; Martha; Til Charlotte; Walzer Part I; Walzer Part II; Walzer Part III.
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