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Here’s a Boston-area band that has some pretty good ideas but should have put more thought into them before recording a CD. The grooves are nice, particularly the loping track #3 and the funky grease of #8, and the melodies are appreciable. However, some of the choices made are questionable and some instrumental techniques are in dire need of polishing. Credit is due to Bill Carbone as a creative and steady drummer, and Geoff Scott’s guitar chops are quite well-honed, but several major gaffes on this disc detract from those qualities.
On evidence of the first track, bassist Garrett Sayers spent so much time kneeling at the altar of Jaco Pastorius that he hasn’t bothered to develop any personal style of his own. Sayers cops Jaco licks left and right but doesn’t say much with them once they’re assembled. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but when it’s overdone it becomes little more than dry copy-catting. On a different note, track #2 would be a very nice composition if Jared Sims’ soprano sax playing wasn’t so horrendously out of tune. Sorry, fellas, but microtones aren’tthatfashionable. Please note the cardinal rule of the soprano sax: if you can’t play it in tune on a regular basis, put the damned thing down! His tenor playing also suffers from intonation problems now and then, though not as consistently as the straight horn. When he can find the right key, however, Sims’ playing is soulful and nicely thought out.
Another frequent downer is Geoff Scott’s insipidly obtuse lyrics and his neo-lounge-lizard delivery of them. He apparently has a Donald Fagen fetish without the discerning palate required to pull off such lyrical abstraction. His musical compositions, however, are fun and very well-constructed. Track #7 is an annoyingly dry jazz poem by guest Leslie Helpert. There’s a reason that we no longer see many beatniks reciting stream-verse over combo jazz, and this is it. Bor-ing. Part of the poem is rehashed for 30 seconds on track #11, adding insult to injury.
In short, the Miracle Orchestra is still a work in progress. After a few more years of practice and group interaction, I’ll bet these guys will really be something to talk about, and I wish them luck in pursuing their dreams. For now, though, methinks they plunked down that studio cash a mite too soon.
Track Listing: Bad Hair Cut; Canvas; Yes Alone; Tides; Great Oscillate; Black Rock; Half Asleep; This Time; Eurohaus Destroyer; Moon Swing; Still Half Asleep.
Personnel: Jared Sims, soprano, alto and tenor saxophones; Geoff Scott, guitars and vocals; Garrett Sayers, bass guitar and vocals; Bill Carbone, drums and percussion; Leslie Helpert, vocals on #7 and #11 (although the liner notes say she
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.