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Either/Orchestra: More Beautiful Than Death

Mark Corroto By

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They’re Back! To paraphrase Mark Twain, “The rumors of the Either/Orchestra’s permanently playing Grateful Dead music have been exaggerated.” After disbanding the small big band in 1997 and starting a family (just add water), saxophonist and label entrepreneur Russ Gershon has reformed the E/O. At this point I’d like to exclaim “Yahoo,” but due to copyright restrictions imposed by a certain information technology mega-company, my lawyers inform me I can only state how pleased I am to tell you they have a new CD out. Gershon along with E/O veterans, trumpeter Tom Halter and baritone saxophonist Charlie Kohlhase, enlist a cadre of fresh Boston talent to produce what could be one of the new millenium’s top ten records. Graduates of earlier versions of the orchestra (or, more likely, survivors of the road shows) include John Medeski (Medeski, Martin & Wood), Drummer Matt Wilson, Andrew D’Angelo (Human Feel), Curtis Hasselbring, and John Carlson.

Where the genius of Russ Gershon’s latest creation (and E/O sixth release) is evident is their ability to move gracefully between genres and styles. The band has always been equally comfortable with Sun Ra or Dizzy Gillespie’s music. Their latest offering glides through complex charts of simple entertainment. On “All Those SOBs,” Dan Kaufman’s piano plays Thelonious Monk’s “Crepuscule With Nellie” behind an Ellington blues groove, swung hard by the trumpet of Tom Halter. They change gears quickly into a Mambo, some calypso, a bit of Reggae, and parts of an Ethiopian Suite that sounds as if it should be expanded into an entire recording itself. The disc closes with “The Eighth Wonder” where Dan Kaufman’s Wurlitzer electric piano accompanies a funky horn line worthy of Oakland’s Tower Of Power. Recordings of the E/O really only give us a sample of the talented musicians employed by and glimpse at the hundreds of charts mastered by Gershon’s troops. These 74 minutes of music leave the listener wanting more.

Track List:Amiak Abet Abet; Number Three; More Beautiful Than Death; Musicawi Silt; Breaktime For Dougo; All Those SOBs; Slow Mambo For J.J.; Feker Aydelmwey; The Eighth Wonder.

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

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