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For those who’d rather chew and digest their helpings of big–band Jazz slowly and carefully instead of gulping down a series of low–calorie riffs and shout choruses, here’s a lavish spread ably prepared by The Orchestra from beautiful Copenhagen, Denmark. The seven compositions, all by members of the band or director / tenor saxophonist Henrik Frisk, have enough meat on them to give anyone’s molars, incisors and bicuspids a vigorous workout. None is especially hard to swallow, nor are they lacking in flavor (although those who are partial to a diet of Basie or Herman may consider them somewhat bland). The music is in the Bob Graettinger / Gunther Schuller / Gil Evans / Maria Schneider lineage; in other words, probing, densely orchestrated and classically influenced, yet always within the established Jazz framework. While it does swing, that isn’t the cardinal purpose; it seeks instead to incite the intellect as much as the emotions. Tempos are for the most part subdued, and solos unfold neatly from within the orchestral fabric. The most adventurous selections are the two (“Secession,” “Indra”) by Frisk, while the most conventional are saxophonist Lars Møller’s duo, “Colors” and the dark–hued opener, “Blues and the Augmented Truth,” which reminds one ever so faintly of the theme from the Perry Mason television series. The remaining numbers, by trumpeter Jesper Riis (“First Smiles,” “Noxx”) and saxophonist Claus Waidtlow (“Miss K”), lie somewhere between those boundaries. Track lengths range from 12:26 (“Noxx”) to 8:03 (“Miss K”), and soloists are given extensive acreage in which to graze. They include tenor Frisk and trumpeter Riis (“Blues”), alto Peter Fuglsang and pianist Henrik Gunde (“First Smiles”), trombonist Ture Larsen (“Secession”), Gunde and alto Waidtlow (“Miss K”), Waidtlow again, on soprano, and bassist Nils Davidsen (“Noxx”), guitarist Per Gade and soprano Christina Nielsen (“Colors”), Jakob Riis (trombone), Niels Kristensen (bass clarinet), Niels Gerhardt (tuba) and tenor saxophonist Møller (“Indra”). They’re more than respectable, as is The Orchestra itself. There are no amateurs within these precincts. Noxx won’t be to everyone’s taste, but the more open–minded listener should unearth much that is worthwhile.
Track listing: Blues and the Augmented Truth; First Smiles; Secession; Miss K; Noxx; Colors; Indra (69:25).
Henrik Frisk, conductor, artistic director, tenor sax; Peter Fuglsang, alto, soprano sax, alto, Bb clarinet; Claus Waidtlow, alto, soprano sax, clarinet; Lars M
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.