263

Steven Bernstein's Millenial Territory Orchestra: MTO Volume 1

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Steven Bernstein's Millenial Territory Orchestra: MTO Volume 1 It's hard to believe that someone with Steven Bernstein's encyclopaedic musical knowledge has left any stones unturned. Recruited by filmmaker Robert Altman as a musical consultant for Kansas City, the veteran trumpeter from the downtown New York scene became fascinated with the music of the late teens and '20s, when the language of jazz was still being formed. So much so that he turned the experience into an ongoing musical project that echoes the music of bands that toured territories like the American Midwest over eighty years ago. MTO Volume 1 is the first release by Bernstein's Millennial Territory Orchestra, though the group has been playing regularly since 1999. It's a shame that it's taken so long to document the MTO, but it's been worth the wait.

While the instrumentation—horns, violin, guitar, bass and drums—mirrors groups from the era, this is hardly a retro shtick band. The MTO covers material from the time: the swinging "Boy in the Boat, the up-tempo "Happy Hour Blues and a perennial favorite, "Pennies from Heaven, sung by guitarist Matt Munisteri. But Bernstein also reinvents contemporary songs like Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered and Prince's "Darling Nikki, proving that the best songs are malleable, limited only by the arranger's imagination.

"Signed, Sealed, Delivered begins like a Delta blues; guest artist Doug Wamble's slide guitar meshes with Charlie Burnham's violin over a gentle pulse from bassist Ben Allison and drummer Ben Perowsky. The slow-burn vamp builds into a horn arrangement straight from the '20s, before Wamble enters with a soulful vocal that brings the song back to the present—and kicks some serious ass.

Remarkably, the MTO has never rehearsed, although by the time of this recording it was already an experienced unit. Bernstein's challenging arrangements are both detailed and open-ended, leaving plenty of room for powerful solos from every member of the band. "Ripple is another bluesy tune that features strong solos from Burnham and clarinettist Doug Wieselman. Clark Gayton's lithe trombone is the focus of the jump swing of "Toby, while the soulful "Cry Baby Cry is a feature for Eric Lawrence's gutsy baritone.

"Happy Hour Blues shifts gears more than a few times, but the piece feels of its time until it breaks down halfway into a fiery swing that serves as a foundation for Bernstein's best and freest solo on the disc. The MTO may use the music of nearly a century ago as its basis, but it's equally capable of looking forward. Regardless, MTO Volume 1 is just plain fun, from a group of players who are clearly having more fun than anyone should be entitled to.

Visit Steven Bernstein on the web.


Track Listing: Boy in the Boat; Cry Baby Cry; Signed, Sealed, Delivered; Happy Hour Blues; Darling Nikki; Pennies from Heaven; Ripple; Toby; Soul Serenade.

Personnel: Steven Bernstein: trumpet, slide trumpet; Clark Gayton: trombone; Charlie Burnham: violin; Doug Wieselman: clarinet, tenor saxophone; Peter Apfelbaum: tenor and soprano saxophones; Erik Lawrence: baritone and soprano saxophone; Matthew Munisteri: guitar, banjo, vocal; Ben Allison: bass; Ben Perowsky: drums; Doug Wamble: guitar, vocal (3).

Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Sunnyside Records | Style: Dixieland/New Orleans/Swing


Shop

More Articles

Read Transparent Water CD/LP/Track Review Transparent Water
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Billows Of Blue CD/LP/Track Review Billows Of Blue
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Love Dance CD/LP/Track Review Love Dance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Honest Woman CD/LP/Track Review Honest Woman
by James Nadal
Published: February 20, 2017
Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Final Concert CD/LP/Track Review The Final Concert
by John Sharpe
Published: February 19, 2017
Read "Panthalassa: The Music Of Miles Davis 1969-1974" CD/LP/Track Review Panthalassa: The Music Of Miles Davis 1969-1974
by Sacha O'Grady
Published: December 23, 2016
Read "Falga" CD/LP/Track Review Falga
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 18, 2016
Read "Everyone Is Everyone Else" CD/LP/Track Review Everyone Is Everyone Else
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 13, 2016
Read "Streams" CD/LP/Track Review Streams
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 17, 2016
Read "Ljubljana" CD/LP/Track Review Ljubljana
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 6, 2017
Read "Vol. 02" CD/LP/Track Review Vol. 02
by Dave Wayne
Published: November 21, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!