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Album Review

The Composers' Orchestra Berlin: Holding Pattern

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The Composers' Orchestra Berlin: Holding Pattern
Holding Pattern is the fourth album by The Composers' Orchestra Berlin, which, as the name denotes, is an ensemble wherein "the members of the orchestra are not only improvising instrumentalists but are also the composers." Every one of its ten selections was written and arranged by members of the ensemble. According to the jacket notes, "there is no fixed line-up; the composers can select instruments from the pool [of twenty-three musicians] to develop a brand-new...orchestral repertoire with stylistic influences ranging from classical to jazz and from folk to free—the music written for this band has no exclusion zones."

While there is ample polarity throughout, a palpable Deutsche aura pervades the enterprise, which is hardly surprising given the frame of reference and background of the composers, many of whom use the orchestra's every resource—including its five-member string section—to underscore their purpose. The most conspicuous departure from the German-centered stance is the finale, Hazel Leach's brassy, polyrhythmic "Holding Pattern." Leach also wrote the assertive opener, "Do Not Go," and designs a marvelous flute solo on tenor saxophonist Tian Korthals' alluring "Der ungetantze Tango."

Even though there is at least one solo, and usually more than one, on every number, this is music whose ensemble passages clearly assume the leading role. In other words, it is the composers on whose artistry the album leans, and they seldom disappoint. The music on Holding Pattern is by and large agreeable and well-written—while at the same time, it is elaborate and intense, requiring the listener's careful and unremitting attention. Besides Leach and Korthals, the composers are trombonist Anne Dau ("Jetzt, schon und noch"), pianists Heiko Kulemkampff ("Daught Abroad") and Fee Stracke ("Teetisch"), drummers Tom Dayan ("To Begin at the Beginning") and Augustin Strizzi ("Nunez"), guitarist Daniel Meyer ("Sacred Birds") and bassist Dirk Strakhof ("Maskenball").

Most of them solo, as do alto Ruth Schepers, trumpeters Aaron Schmidt-Wiegand and Achim Rothe, flugel Christoph Titz, trombonist Julian Gretschel, bass clarinetist Markus Busch (gold star for him), violinists Davis West and Daniel Friedrichs and tubaist Benjamin Konig. The ad libs are sharp and arise naturally from the ensemble sections. For those who relish big-band jazz with ample meat on its bones, Holding Pattern provides a sumptuous feast for the senses.

Track Listing

Do Not Go; Jetzt, schon und noch; Daught Abroad; Teetisch; Sacred Birds; Der ungetantzte Tango; To Begin at the Beginning; Nunez; Maskenball; Holding Pattern.

Personnel

The Composers' Orchestra Berlin: band/orchestra; Tian Korthals: saxophone, tenor; Hazel Leach: composer/conductor; Anne Dau: trombone; Heiko Kulemkampff: piano; Fee Stracke: piano; Tom Dayan: drums; Augustin Strizzi: drums; Daniel Meyer: guitar; Dirk Strakhof: bass; Ruth Schepers: saxophone, alto; Aaron Schmidt-Wiegand: trumpet; Achim Rothe: trumpet; Christoph Titz: flugelhorn; Julian Gretschel: trombone; Markus Busch: clarinet, bass; Benjamin Konig: tuba.

Additional Instrumentation

Davis West, Daniel Friedrichs, Joana Carvalhas: violin; Natasha Jaffe, Frederico Malverde: cello.

Album information

Title: Holding Pattern | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: JazzHausMusik

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