412

Vince Mendoza/London Symphony Orchestra: Epiphany

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Vince Mendoza/London Symphony Orchestra: Epiphany In and out of print since its initial release in '99, composer/arranger Vince Mendoza's Epiphany represents one of the finest examples of orchestration in a jazz setting. While there have been other fine examples of large-scale blending, they have often simply retrofitted existing material, as was the case with last year's Promises Kept , where pianist Steve Kuhn's compositions were lushly interpreted by arranger Carlos Franzetti.

Mendoza is a composer in his own right who may not be known to a broader audience, but has been a favourite source for artists including Gary Burton, John Abercrombie and Charlie Haden since he emerged on the scene in the mid-'80s. He's also a well-respected arranger, having worn that mantle for artists as diverse as Joe Zawinul, Joni Mitchell and Bjork. So it's a good thing that Michael Watts Productions has seen fit to reissue this significant disc so that it can be revisited by a fresh audience.

Unlike some jazz ensemble-with-orchestra collaborations where clumsy transitions between the two do nothing more than highlight their stylistic disparities, this effort reflects Mendoza's views that all the instruments available to him are part of a larger palette. Consequently the entire affair feels completely organic and unforced. There are times when the focus is on the orchestra, other times where the ensemble is in the forefront, and still other occasions where the two meet on common ground. The integration is so seamless that one is often unaware of the remarkable way in which Mendoza shifts the emphasis.

Mendoza has used sequencers as part of the writing process in the past, something that remains evident even on his more recent compositions, where repetition of complex passages act as a backdrop for themes that are occasionally convoluted yet always memorable. But with the broader textures available from the orchestra, he is able to construct subtle rubato passages. On the title track, where the strings gently introduce the piece, drummer Peter Erskine finally and delicately establishes time as the ensemble gradually inserts itself and pianist John Taylor takes a well-constructed solo that seems to intuitively ebb and flow with the support of the orchestra.

And yet as complex as Mendoza's charts can clearly be, even when the meter is irregular, they feature nothing jarring or angular. The overall ambience is lush without being saccharine, tender without being overly sentimental, easy on the ears without losing the challenge that bears new experiences on repeated listens. A broader dramatic arc imbues the entire cycle; one might listen to individual tracks, but taken as a whole Epiphany yields an altogether richer experience. With only six albums to his name, Epiphany is an all-too-rare opportunity to hear Mendoza in his own element, focusing on his own compositions with the broadest possible range of available textures and an all-star cast of improvisers. A classic.


Track Listing: Impromptu; Wheaten Sky; Esperanca; Ambivalence; Sanctus; Epiphany; Barcelona; Deep Song

Personnel: Vince Mendoza (composer, arranger, conductor), London Symphony Orchestra, John Abercrombie (guitar), Michael Brecker (tenor saxophone), Peter Erskine (drums), Marc Johnson (bass), Joe Lovano (tenor saxophone), John Taylor (piano), Kenny Wheeler (trumpet, flugelhorn)

Title: Epiphany | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Michael Watts Production


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Second Act CD/LP/Track Review Second Act
by Mark Sullivan
Published: August 23, 2017
Read Imaga Mondo CD/LP/Track Review Imaga Mondo
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 23, 2017
Read Port Of Call CD/LP/Track Review Port Of Call
by John Sharpe
Published: August 23, 2017
Read May I Introduce To You CD/LP/Track Review May I Introduce To You
by James Nadal
Published: August 23, 2017
Read Honey And Salt CD/LP/Track Review Honey And Salt
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 22, 2017
Read To the Bone CD/LP/Track Review To the Bone
by Geno Thackara
Published: August 22, 2017
Read "Expedition: Duo Electro-Acoustic Improvisations" CD/LP/Track Review Expedition: Duo Electro-Acoustic Improvisations
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 15, 2017
Read "LifeCycle" CD/LP/Track Review LifeCycle
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 23, 2017
Read "Viriditas" CD/LP/Track Review Viriditas
by Troy Dostert
Published: April 14, 2017
Read "Godspeed" CD/LP/Track Review Godspeed
by Roger Farbey
Published: December 14, 2016
Read "Concert Of The Century" CD/LP/Track Review Concert Of The Century
by Mark E. Gallo
Published: August 10, 2017
Read "Harlem" CD/LP/Track Review Harlem
by James Nadal
Published: August 18, 2017

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.