Brand new from GM Recordings is Orange Then Blue’s “Hold The Elevator-Live In Europe And Other Haunts”. OTB have released several excellent recordings since the mid 90’s as these musicians are among modern jazz’s best and brightest.
The opener, “Alino Oro” by saxophonist Chris Speed, parallels some of the recent work and involvement with the innovative band “Pachora” (see April 99 AAJ review). “Alino Oro” is a vibrant composition which establishes the ensemble’s large brassy sound as this piece sounds like a triumphant Balkan military march or something to that effect. The Ellington/Strayhorn tune “Smada”, finds the band touching upon classic Ellington charts which reflect the Duke’s brilliant use of chromatic intervals and unorthodox brass-woodwind voicings. This piece quickly blossoms into a motif filled with alternating tempos that trace Latin rhythms to mid-tempo swing. The brilliant multi-instrumentalist reedman Chris Speed, blossoms with gorgeous clarinet work that pays homage to past masters yet Speed pushes the envelope with a keen sense of modernism while directing the band through complex time signatures. Speed and trombonist Jim Leff jab and spar as this piece eventually transcends tra! ditionalism and takes on modern jazz characteristics. It is altogether obvious that these musicians are wearing many hats.
Rhythms abound in “Rufus 7” written by cellist Rufus Cappadocia and saxophonist Matt Darriau. Here, Seido Salisfoski shows his wares with the drumbek and other percussion instruments amid lively horn charts. Matt Darriau’s “Peregrinations” takes on a Monk-ish slant along with a hodgepodge of themes and clever, enticing charts which places emphasis on the rhythmic structure. The band is bold and brassy, displaying verve and determination throughout. Chris Speed’s “RE.Scatter” is a large scale free-jazz romp featuring wicked soloing by saxophonist Andy Laster, pianist Jamie Saft and trumpeter Cuong Vu. On “RE.Scatter” there are enough twists and turns and thematic variations to satisfy one’s voracious modern jazz appetite. Another highlight is the fantastic rendition of saxophonist/composer Tim Berne’s sinewy and complex composition, “Bloodcount”. Chris Speed has performed with Berne for several years as a member of the band, Bloodcount.
A composition titled “Sich Reped” by saxophonist Andrew D’ Angelo smacks the listener in the face like a wet towel. George Schuller’s propulsive drumming pulls the thematic movements together with strong rhythmic development as OTB pull out the stops complete with insightful dialogue among tuba player Jose Davila, french hornist Tom Varner, and alto saxophonist’s Andrew D’ Angelo and Andy Laster. A fitting finale to a powerhouse recording.
Simply put, “Hold The Elevator” is essential listening as OTB create quite an impact with their robust and skillful assault on modern jazz. **** ½
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