114

Either/Orchestra: Mood Music for Time Travelers

Ian Patterson By

Sign in to view read count
As saxophonist/founder Russ Gershon has noted, the 25-year history of the Either/Orchestra constitutes a quarter of jazz's eventful history. The changes in this large ensemble's music in part reflect wider trends and at the same time are the results of an organic evolution as members have come and gone. In the early years, Gershon plumbed the jazz cannon for repertory in addition to composing original material. However, arrangements of songs by Bob Dylan, Bing Crosby and Robert Fripp pointed to an eclectic and open-minded musical vision.

The Either/Orchestra's unlikely foray into Ethiopian music for most of the 2000s was in vogue with the increasing influence of world folk music in jazz and brought the band widespread critical acclaim. Mood Music for Time Travellers is the Either/Orchestra's first recorded outing in six years and finds the 12-piece band swinging its way through a dozen original compositions in what Gershon describes as a return to "American music."

Perhaps music of the Americas would be more fitting, as Dominican-born conguero Vicente Lebron and Venezuelan drummer Pablo Bencid bring strong Latin flavors to the arrangements. "Ropa Loca" is a hybrid of the hot and sweet schools of Latin big bands with intermittent brass riffs bringing a mambo vibe to a catchy number which features mellow solos from trombonist Joel Yennior and the leader on soprano. "Latin Dimensions" is a percussive workout, subtly infectious as opposed to pulsating fireworks. On this latter number the brass section is relegated to a cameo role.

In spite of the many options and combinations at his disposal, Gershon is not afraid to strip things right down; the Duke Ellingtonian rumba of "Beaucoups KooKoo" is essentially a rhythm section outing, with elegant solos from baritone saxophonist Charlie Kohlhase and charter member and trumpeter Tom Halter.

Pianist Rafael Alcala's "Watermelon Man"-like motif swings "The (one of a kind) Shimmy" over a solid bass and trombone groove while nicely layered brass engages in call and response. The impressive Alcala also brings atmospheric Hammond B-3 waves to "Portrait of Lindsey Schust." Halter and Gershon both cut confident solos on a standout track of imaginative arrangement and powerful ensemble playing.

The African connection hasn't been overlooked, either: the impressionistic "35," by quietly authoritative bassist Rick McLaughlin, integrates Ethiopian modes with jazz harmonics to great effect. Elsewhere, an infectious James Brown/Fela Kuti groove inhabits the funky "The Petrograd Revision," with Bencid keeping a water-tight beat. The other McLaughlin composition, "History Lesson" also tips a wink at Kuti and is the longest track, at nearly twelve minutes.

This is the Either/Orchestra's eleventh release in a quarter of a century, which is a fairly healthy return. That it finds the band in such rude health after so long augers well for the next chapter in its history. Milestones are significant, but the most important thing, no doubt, is that the Either/Orchestra has established itself as a fairly unique jazz institution, and as Mood Music for Time Travellers demonstrates in abundance, one with a stirring personal voice.

Track Listing: The (One of a Kind) Shimmy; Baucoups Kookoo; Coolocity; Portrait of Lindsey Schust; Ropa Loca; Thirty Five; Latin Dimensions; The Petrograd Revision; Suriname; History Lesson.

Personnel: Tom Halter: trumpet; Daniel Rosenthal: trumpet; Joel Yennior: trombone; Godwin Louis: alto saxophone; Russ Gershon: tenor and soprano saxophones; Charlie Kohlhase: baritone saxophone (1, 2, 6, 7, 8); Kurtis Rivers: baritone saxophone (3, 9, 10); Henry Cook: flute (4, 5); Rafael Alcala: piano, Hammond organ

Title: Mood Music for Time Travelers | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Accurate Records

Tags

Watch

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

The (one of a kind) Shimmy

The (one of a kind) Shimmy

Either/Orchestra
Mood Music For Time Travellers

Yezamed Yebada

Yezamed Yebada

Either/Orchestra
Live in Addis

Live Reviews
Album Reviews
Multiple Reviews
Film Reviews
Album Reviews
Opinion
Album Reviews
Live Reviews
Album Reviews
Read more articles
Mood Music for Time Travelers

Mood Music for Time...

Accurate Records
2011

buy
Mood Music For Time Travellers

Mood Music For Time...

Accurate Records
2010

buy
 

Afro-cubism

Unknown label
2003

buy
Neo-Modernism

Neo-Modernism

Accurate Records
2003

buy

Related Articles

Read Getz At The Gate Album Reviews
Getz At The Gate
By Chris May
June 19, 2019
Read Keep Talkin' Album Reviews
Keep Talkin'
By Dan McClenaghan
June 19, 2019
Read Night Owl Album Reviews
Night Owl
By Dan Bilawsky
June 19, 2019
Read Let's Play Album Reviews
Let's Play
By Don Phipps
June 19, 2019
Read Hidden Corners Album Reviews
Hidden Corners
By Dan McClenaghan
June 18, 2019
Read Special Album Reviews
Special
By Jakob Baekgaard
June 18, 2019
Read Land Of Real Men Album Reviews
Land Of Real Men
By Friedrich Kunzmann
June 18, 2019