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Getting past the sci-fi cover artwork of this album, there's some pretty diverting jazz within. Pianist Ted Kooshian's Standard Orbit Quartet has a different spin on the music. The thematic concept is to play music from animated Saturday morning television science fiction broadcasts of yore. In order to complement the aforementioned seven themes, Kooshian his group submit their versions of rock tunes plus a take on Borodin/Wright's standard "Baubles, Bangles and Beads."
It is possible that you've seen or heard Kooshian as the pianist in the Ed Palermo Big Band, a group noted for its musical investigation of the work of Frank Zappa set to jazz. Kooshian utilizes the same spirit on this album.
The music gets off to a roaring start with the Hanna/Barbera cartoon theme "Top Cat," with Jeff Lederer's tenor sax belting out the melody and solo. Lederer remains a key element of this group as the primary voice on these melodies and his solos range from mainstream to post-Coltrane wailing on "Buffy, The Vampire Slayer" followed, in the same spirit, by an intense Kooshian solo. Lederer's clarinet work on a complete reworking of Harris/Webster's "Spider-Man"(the television show, not the film) and Kooshian's arrangement recasts this tune at a New Orleans "slow drag" pace, with Lederer's soulful interpolations.
Another aspect of the Kooshian oeuvre is his version of The Police's "Message in a Bottle," where Lederer uses soprano sax to invest Sting's melody with a sensitive yet emotional reading. Led Zeppelin's "Black Dog" is rife with all sorts of possibilities, played in a solid groove. Peter Gabriel's "Don't Give Up" is given the ballad treatment, likened by Kooshian to Wayne Shorter's "Footprints" in the liner notes, taking on a nice nostalgic pace with another fine Lederer soprano solo.
Kooshian maintains a pace throughout the album by delivering driving solos, comping and being the creative force behind this ensemble
Track Listing: Top Cat; Black Dog; Captain Kangaroo; Message In A Bottle; Spider-Man; The Simpsons; Batman; Buffy The Vampire Slayer; Baubles, Bangles and Beads; Don't Give Up; Bullitt.
Personnel: Teo Kooshian: piano; Jeff Lederer: tenor and soprano saxophones, clarinets; Tom Hubbard: bass; Warren Odze: drums, percussion.
I was first exposed to jazz while learning to play chess with my uncles. They would play smooth jazz, and then switch up to more standard types of jazz. But, when they played Kind of Blue by Miles Davis, I was
hooked and I haven't looked back.