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Kitchen Orchestra: Kitchen Orchestra with Alexander von Schlippenbach

Eyal Hareuveni By

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The Norwegian, Stavanger-based Kitchen Orchestra may be one of Europe's best kept secrets. A collective of local musicians who come from classical, jazz, free improvisation and electronics. The orchestra was founded in 2005 and since then collaborated with guest conductors such as Danish saxophonist Lotte Anker and former Stavanger resident, bassist Per Zanussi, dance troupes and visual artists such as the Japanese Tetsuya Nagato—who designed the cover of this album—and Hiraku Suzuki.

The orchestra's debut album, after two singles, unites it with German composer, orchestra leader and one of the most original interpreters of Thelonious Monk's legacy, pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach, who has acted as an artist in residence with the orchestra since 2009. For over forty years von Schlippenbach has been one of the most important musicians of the European free jazz and free improvisation scenes, leading his own trio with saxophonist Evan Parker and drummer Paul Lovens, the international Globe Unity Orchestra through its many incarnations and the Berlin Contemporary Jazz Orchestra and collaborating with many other innovative creative musician as pianist and wife Aki Takase (their last album Iron Wedding, Intakt, 2008).

Under the leadership of von Schlippenbach the Kitchen Orchestra has matured as one of the most exciting European big bands. His sheer breadth of stylistic output, ranging from collective improvisation, contemporary music to jazz legacy created ideal structures for this fearless and playful orchestra. Von Schlippenbach adapted his vision to the orchestra's unconventional instrumentation that includes a vocal artist, accordion and electronics and left enough room for musical individualism and even eccentric articulations. He devised a highly diverse musical vision for the orchestra, where contemporary classic elements, collective and frenzy improvisations, challenging conducting techniques, avant-garde sonic experimentalism or thoughtful readings of jazz standards all sound organic. His vision suggests a highly original and inclusive perspective of the music of the last hundred years.

The opening, "Banging' In," sounds majestic, with its trumpet fanfares, and ironic at the same time, with the electronic sonic manipulations. Von Schlippenbach arranged his "Globe Unity 40," written for 40th anniversary of the orchestra (Intakt, 2006) as a vehicle for collective and individual improvisations, employing the orchestra as one, massive instrument. The orchestra gains volume and builds the tension throughout fiery and passionate improvisations of vocalist Stine Janvin Motland, guitarist Vidar Schanche and baritone saxophonist Petter Frost Fadnes and releases it with surprising and melodic eruptions.

"Grand Canon" is a masterful exercise of using graphical notations and conducting manipulations in order to transform eccentric and chaotic sonic articulations into cohesive, large orchestral sound. Trumpeter Gunhild Seim is the main soloist on Takase's beautiful "Canto Dedicato," leading the orchestra with evocative and melancholic playing. "The Morlocks," written originally for The Berlin Contemporary Jazz Orchestra (The Morlocks and Other Pieces, FMP, 1994) enables the orchestra to explore sounds, timbres and colors, including otherworldly ones by Dag Egil Njaa on electronics, and to integrate these sonic searches into a rhythmic structure. The tender arrangement of Takase and von Schlippenbach's emotional "Glass Beads" features an arresting soundscape with Motland and accordionist Johan Egdetveit as the main soloists. The impressive program is closed with a heartfelt cover of Eric Dolphy's portrait of Monk, "Hat and Beard," coupled with a cabaret-style cover of Monk's "Let's Cool One."

The Kitchen Orchestra debut is a great masterpiece. An impressive testimony of both von Schlippenbach and the Kitchen Orchestra's creativity and immaculate and imaginary performances.

Track Listing: Bangin' In; Globe Unity 40; Time Is; Grand Canon; Canto Dedicato; The Morlocks; Glass Beads; Hat And Beard; Let's Cool One.

Personnel: Alexander von Schlippenbach: conductor, grand piano; Stine Janvin Motland: voice; Didrik Ingvaldsen: trumpet; Gunhild Seim: trumpet; Petter Frost Fadnes: baritone saxophone; Glenn Brun Henriksen: saxophone; Arild Hoem: saxophone; Dominique Brackeva: trombone; Gaute Vikdal: trombone; Johan Egdetveit: accordion; Dag Egil Njaa: electronics, trombone; Vidar Schanche: Guitar; Øyvind Dale: rhodes; John Lilja: double bass; Dag Magnus Narvesen: drums,,percussion; Ståle Birkeland: drums, percussion.

Title: Kitchen Orchestra with Alexander von Schlippenbach | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Whats Cooking Records

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