271

The Either / Orchestra: More Beautiful Than Death

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
For those who appreciate big–band music that wanders from the beaten path but never far enough to exhaust one’s patience, the Massachusetts–based Either / Orchestra is designed to please. There are no shopworn standards in its book; instead, the E / O takes the listener on a bracing musical journey from North American Jazz / blues / funk to Latin and Township Jazz / calypso all the way to Ethiopian pop songs of the ’70s. Six of the nine selections on More Beautiful Than Death, the orchestra’s first album since 1996, were written by leader / saxophonist Russ Gershon, the others by Teshone Sissay (“Amiak Abet Abet”), Girma Beyenet (“Musicawi Silt”) and Ayalew Mesfin (“Feker Aydelmwey”). There’s enough African, Latin and reggae–inspired music to beckon a wide audience, enough Jazz to placate the purists. The undermanned E / O (it’s actually a tentet) has found a way to keep the music accessible without sacrificing its integrity, an arduous balancing act but one that can pay handsome dividends when performed correctly, as it is here. Although the label “new and improved” is nowhere to be seen, seven members of the orchestra (nine including alto Miguel Zenon and bassist Atemu Aton, who appear only on “Number Three”) are making their E / O debut — Gershon, baritone saxophonist Charlie Kohlhase and trumpeter Tom Halter are the only holdovers. Each of the newcomers makes a sharp impression, with keyboardist Dan Kaufman, drummer Harvey Wirht and percussionist Vicente Lebron especially engaging. Gershon is a clever writer who draws from a wide array of sources and knows how to keep a listener on his toes. The zestful “Breaktime for Dougo” summons to mind the Cuban ensemble Irakere at its best, whereas “Slow Mambo for JJ” (which engirds altoist Jaleel Shaw’s most productive solo) is more akin to Tito Puente or even Perez Prado. Gershon’s soprano brightens the scampering “Feker Aydelmwey,” while Kohlhase flexes his improvisational muscles on the dream–like “More Beautiful Than Death” and “Musicawi Silt” and Halter does likewise on “Amiak Abet Abet” and “All Those Sobs.” After four years away from the recording studio, the newly reinforced Either / Orchestra is more durable and dynamic than ever.

Track listing: Amiak Abet Abet; Number Three; More Beautiful Than Death; Musicawi Silt; Breaktime for Dougo; All Those Sobs; Slow Mambo for JJ; Feker Aydelmwey; The Eighth Wonder (73:56).


Title: More Beautiful Than Death | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Accurate Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Estonian Suite: Live In Tallinn CD/LP/Track Review Estonian Suite: Live In Tallinn
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: November 18, 2017
Read The Princess CD/LP/Track Review The Princess
by Mark Corroto
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Queen City Blues CD/LP/Track Review Queen City Blues
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Latin Lover CD/LP/Track Review Latin Lover
by Rob Rosenblum
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Reclamation CD/LP/Track Review Reclamation
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Provenance CD/LP/Track Review Provenance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 17, 2017
Read "Just Friends" CD/LP/Track Review Just Friends
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 11, 2017
Read "Where Is My Mind?" CD/LP/Track Review Where Is My Mind?
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 11, 2017
Read "Unloved" CD/LP/Track Review Unloved
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 12, 2017
Read "Chronosome" CD/LP/Track Review Chronosome
by Budd Kopman
Published: November 24, 2016
Read "Nightfall" CD/LP/Track Review Nightfall
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: October 11, 2017
Read "Time for the Dancers" CD/LP/Track Review Time for the Dancers
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 30, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.

Please support out sponsor