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Daniel Hersog Jazz Orchestra: Open Spaces


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Daniel Hersog Jazz Orchestra: Open Spaces
The subtitle of this album is "Folk Songs Reimagined" and Daniel Hersog uses a very liberal meaning for the term "folk song" here. He includes traditional folk songs on this album, in addition to familiar tunes by Bob Dylan and Gordon Lightfoot and his own folk-based compositions. All are given a glistening polish in the sweeping cinematic arrangements which he writes for his orchestra, and are further enhanced by excellent solo work from a number of musicians.

Hersog's version of Lightfoot's song "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" is noticeably shorter than the original recording but employs a stirring brass-heavy arrangement, punctuated by unhinged tenor saxophone soloing from Noah Preminger. "How Many Roads," derived from Dylan's "Blowin' In The Wind," has a wandering, airy quality which provides a perfect background for Kurt Rosenwinkel's sweeping through in his distinctive electric guitar style. As for the real folk songs, "Shenandoah" is a touching feature for Scott Robinson's majestic baritone saxophone playing over rich brass harmonies, while Rosenwnikel turns up again on "Red River Valley," quietly picking single notes over another gorgeous Hersog arrangement.

The soloists are just as impressive in the leader's original works. "I Hear" is a kaleidoscopic jumble of walking grooves and percussive squawks derived from a Canadian children's song. It boasts more wild tenor saxophone from Preminger, slippery soprano sax from Ben Kono, and flying trumpet from Brad Turner. On "Canadian Folk Song," Rosenwinkel slides around with dreamy echo effects before the orchestra leads him into a swaying country dance inn which Preminger and pianist Frank Carlberg also get space to shine. "Rentrer" is an exceptional piece with a flow of quiet grandeur which contains more outstanding soloing from Carlberg and Robinson, plus an eloquent bass introduction by Kim Cass.

For all the power of the soloing here, the real heart of the album is in Hersog's writing. He uses a lot of sweeping massed harmonies which create a sense of drama without bombast. His brass and reeds often combine in a gentle, sinuous mode which is consistently haunting and a joy to hear. Daniel Hersog has developed a gift for expressive orchestral writing with beauty and emotion which puts him directly in the lineage of great jazz composers such as Gil Evans, Mike Gibbs, and Maria Schneider. He is a great talent and this album is a remarkable and powerful work.

Track Listing

The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald; How Many Roads; Ahead by a Century; Shenandoah; I Hear; Jib Set; Canadian Folk Song; Rentrer; Sarracenia Purpurea; Red River Valley.


Scott Robinson
saxophone, tenor
Noah Preminger
saxophone, tenor
Frank Carlberg
composer / conductor
Ben Kono
Brad Turner
Kim Cass
bass, acoustic
Dan Weiss
Michael Kim
Derry Byrne
Jeremy Berkman
Jim Hopson
Sharman King
Additional Instrumentation

Daniel Hersog: conductor; Ben Henriques: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, clarinet; Tom Keenlyside: alto flute, piccolo, tenor saxophone; Scott Robinson: bass clarinet, flute; Michael Kim, Brad Turner, Derry Byrne, Jocelyn Waugh: flugelhorn; Jim Hopson: euphonium.

Album information

Title: Open Spaces | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Cellar Music



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