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Awakening Orchestra: Interlude: Atticus Live!-The Music of Jesse Lewis

Karl Ackermann By

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On the heals of the excellent debut This Is Not the Answer, Vol 1 (Innova Recordings, 2014), composer/conductor Kyle Saulnier leaves the writing credits to featured guitarist/composer Jesse Lewis on Interlude: Atticus Live!-The Music of Jesse Lewis. Not a regular member of Saulnier's Awakening Orchestra, Lewis had recorded each of these tracks on his similarly named Atticus (Self-Produced, 2008). Saulnier was intrigued by the notion of recreating these tunes with his twenty-piece jazz orchestra and set about to capture that experience in this live recording. Saulnier points out that the "Interlude..." portion of the title is important as this work intends to be a release between Part I and the yet-to-be recorded This Is Not the Answer, Vol 2.

A prolific session man, Lewis has appeared on a dozen recordings including Jon Irabagon's Outright! (Innova, 2008) and Unhinged (Self-Produced, 2012). An adaptable and wide-ranging performer, Lewis crosses genres, working in electronic music, jazz, world and pop and he has played in a wide variety of New York venues ranging from Small's to Carnegie Hall. Lewis has worked with a host of well-known artists including Chris Potter, David Binney, Mark Turner and Ingrid Jensen.

Lewis opens the album with the pastoral solo work "Looking Glass," played much the way he originated it. "Build" is essentially an askew introduction to "The Adventures of Dirt McGillicuddy," a pretty piece for the full orchestra—initially—but then skewing toward a more open and aggressive motif. It again features a solo from Lewis and from trumpeter Jonathan Powell. The title track is the twelve-minute centerpiece of the album with Saulnier's cinematic arrangement front and center and Nadje Noordhuis' beautiful flugelhorn solo wrapping it up.

Regular guitarist Michael Macallister gets his chance to shine on the multi-dimesional "The Robert Frost Experiment" which features a solo from alto saxophonist Vito Chiavuzzo. Samuel Ryder's soulful tenor enhances the reflective "Quiet" and makes for a perfect lead into Lewis' celestial "Snowflake." "Turbulence," contrary to the name, is for half of its playing time, quite idyllic but with Will Clark's thunderous insurgence and Michael Boscarino's growling trombone, the piece takes off for wilder terrain. Interlude: Atticus Live! closes with "The Pasture (You Come Too)," as inviting as the name implies. Noordhuis and Lewis create a painterly sunset of a finale.

Saulnier and his Awakening Orchestra continue to deliver both elegance and edginess in their versatile approach. As an arranger, the leader demonstrates that the music needn't be his own in order for him to make the best of it. Whether dramatic or contemplative, Saulnier coaxes emotion from every phrase, and an extended personality from each solo instrument. Interlude: Atticus Live!-The Music of Jesse Lewis is another winner in what will hopefully be a long line of projects from this collective.

Track Listing: Looking Glass; Build; The Adventures of Dirt McGillicuddy; Atticus; The Robert Frost Experiment; Quiet; Snowflake; Turbulence; The Pasture (You Come Too).

Personnel: Kyle Saulnier, conductor / arranger; Jesse Lewis, composer / guitar; Rob Mosher: reeds; Vito Chiavuzzo: reeds; Samuel Ryder: reeds; Andrew Gutauskas: reeds; Nick Biello: reeds; Daniel Urness: trumpet; Seneca Black: trumpet; Nadje Noordhuis: trumpet; Jonathan Powell: trumpet; Michael Boscarino: trombones; Sam Burtis: trombones; James Rogers: trombones; Max Seigel: trombones; James Shipp: vibraphone; Michael Macallister: guitar; Aaron Kotler: piano, keyboards; Joshua Paris: bass; Will Clark: drums; Rich Stein: percussion.

Title: Interlude: Atticus Live!-The Music of Jesse Lewis | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Biophilia Records


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