If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.
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The UMO Jazz orchestra made their Naxos Jazz debut among the first six releases from the new label in 1998 with their self-titled disc ( UMO Orchestra, Naxos Jazz 86010). The orchestra performed a bright progressive type of big band jazz that listeners have come to expect of European, specifically Scandinavian, orchestras. UMO has never been frightened away from a pricklier repertoire and they take John Coltrane nuggets like "Equinox" (on their first recording) and "Naima" (from this new one) and breathe big life into them, recasting them almost classically. The Mongo Santamaria vehicle "Afro Blue" (also with threads to Coltrane) is given a bright reading with superb brass tonality. The original material follows in vein as the standards. The UMO Orchestra continues to be a worth addition to any big band library.
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
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