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Orchestre National de Jazz: Europa Berlin

Read "Europa Berlin" reviewed by Eyal Hareuveni

When guitarist-composer Olivier Benoit was appointed in 2014 as the new artistic director of the prestigious French Orchestre National de Jazz (ONJ) some local neo-cons expressed their worries that this orchestra may lose its jazzy touch. Benoit composed before music for orchestras like the Lille-based Circum Grand Orchestra and the La Pieuvre ensemble, but is known as an experimental guitarist and adventurous improviser whose musical language is genre-binding. Europa Berlin, the second musical portrayal of a major European cities after ...


Orchestre National de Jazz: Piazzolla!

Read "Orchestre National de Jazz: Piazzolla!" reviewed by Jeff Dayton-Johnson

The Argentinian composer, bandoneón player and tango revolutionary Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992) was no stranger to jazz. As a music student in Paris in the mid-1950s, he was inspired by the joyous improvisation he witnessed in the effervescent Left Bank jazz scene. He would go on to collaborate with baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan (Summit/Reunion Cumbre, Erre, 1974) and vibraphonist Gary Burton (The New Tango, Atlantic, 1986). Indeed, Piazzolla integrated jazz sensibilities into his music over a span of decades. On the ...


Orchestre National de Jazz: Shut Up And Dance

Read "Orchestre National de Jazz: Shut Up And Dance" reviewed by Jeff Dayton-Johnson

Orchestre National de JazzShut Up And DanceBee Jazz2010 Daniel Yvinec's first foray as artistic director of France's National Jazz Orchestra, a tribute to English rock oddball Robert Wyatt (Around Robert Wyatt, Bee Jazz, 2009) drew well-deserved critical praise. To some, however, it sounded more like a pop masterpiece than appropriate fare for state-sponsored guardians of the jazz repertoire. “Is this an ONJ?" sniffed pianist and former ONJ director Antoine Herve (class ...


Orchestre National de Jazz: Around Robert Wyatt

Read "Orchestre National de Jazz: Around Robert Wyatt" reviewed by Jeff Dayton-Johnson

Orchestre National de JazzAround Robert WyattBee Jazz2009 Hearing that France's National Jazz Orchestra has prepared a program of music by Robert Wyatt, the venerable sage of English rock and roll, is intriguing, but not necessarily shocking. After all, the legendary Soft Machine, for which Wyatt served as drummer and vocalist in the late 1960s and early 1970s, pushed prog rock far into the direction of jazz-inspired improvisation. But Around Robert Wyatt borrows ...


Orchestre National de Jazz: Electrique

Read "Electrique" reviewed by Jeff Dayton-Johnson

In the wake of the magnificent Close to Heaven (Le Chant du Monde, 2006), the French national jazz orchestra's tribute to the Led Zeppelin songbook, musical director Franck Tortiller found himself attracted to the early 1970s plugged-in jazz-rock fusion of the Headhunters, Weather Report and Lifetime. The result is Electrique. That's his story, anyway, and it's been approvingly repeated in the glowing reviews the record has already received in the French jazz press.The reasons for the critics' enthusiasm ...


Orchestre National de Jazz: Close to Heaven

Read "Orchestre National de Jazz: Close to Heaven" reviewed by Jeff Dayton-Johnson

Orchestre National de Jazz Close to Heaven Le Chant Du Monde Harmonia Mundi ---> 2006

Some readers might recall, fondly or otherwise, Dread Zeppelin, a band with at least one too many gimmicks: fronted by an Elvis impersonator, they performed reggae versions of Led Zeppelin songs (in place of the drum solo on “Moby Dick," the Elvis stand-in read aloud from the novel Moby Dick). One is tempted to approach a new album of ...


Orchestre National de Jazz: Charmediterran

Read "Charmediterran" reviewed by Jerry D'Souza

Diversity is the keynote of the Orchestre National de Jazz, led by Paolo Damiani, the first foreign musical director of the French Orchestra. The charms of the Mediterranean that sweep through the music are evoked by the many rhythmic patterns of the lands of the region. More, the compositions come from Damiani, Trovesi, Jeanneau and Brahem, each with his own perspective but with his eyes on the whole. In coming together, they have constructed an exciting musical travelogue. Credit should ...


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