Large ensemble recordings are just not attempted these days. That is unless one is blessed with Lincoln Center's budget or you happen to be Anthony Braxton or maybe Maria Schneider. Further, to assemble a large cast of 47 musicians plus two conductors for a recording that features written classical music, free improvisation conduction, and superstar soloists is practically unthinkable. But here it is. Saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock presents a Mary Shelley modern Prometheus "It's Alive" discovery.
Two Works For Orchestra With Soloists includes "Vogelfrei" and the four-part "Contemporary Chaos Practices," which is anything but a free-for-all. Laubrock, who has distinguished her writing for her Septet Serpentines, Anti-House quintet, an octet, Kris Davis' Paradoxical Frog, and her wind and brass quintet Ubatuba, is a rare combination of free improviser with a gift for composition.
The jaw dropping complexity, and at times density of this music, makes for a revitalizing listen. The classical orchestral members maintain a modern compositional sound that parts its waters for the soloists Laubrock, guitarist Mary Halvorson, pianist Kris Davis, and trumpeter Nate Wooley. The four soloists are often mentioned these days in context of not only jazz but free improvisation, and new music. Halvorson's unique guitar phrasing follows the orchestra's opening in the title track, which continues to percolate beneath her solo. Next comes Wooley and Laubrock, and the orchestra as an integrated biotic, swirling, expanding, Darwinian evolutionary stew. The second composition "Vogelfrei" carries a denser mess with an almost constant half-light. Laubrock mixes an electronic hum with vocals and ever slicing and cutting woodwinds. The music is ambitious without becoming intolerant. The improvised parts thrill without going off the rails, as do the scored sections. This is a recording you congratulate the musicians for creating and yourself for listening.
Track Listing: Contemporary Chaos Practices Part 1 & 2; Contemporary Chaos Practices Part 3; Contemporary Chaos Practices Part 4;
Personnel: Mary Halvorson: guitar; Kris Davis: piano; Nate Wooley: trumpet; Ingrid Laubrock: saxophone; Eric Wubbels: conductor
1; Taylor Ho Bynum: conductor 2; Greg Chudzik: bass; Pat Swoboda: bass; Nanci Belmont: bassoon; Dana Jessen:
bassoon; Talia Dicker: cello; Maria Hadge: cello; Katinka Kleijn: cello; Joshua Rubin: clarinet, bass clarinet; Katie
Schoepflin: clarinet, bass clarinet; Bohdan Hilash: contrabass clarinet, clarinet, bass clarinet; Michel Gentile: flutes,
piccolo; Zach Sheets: flute, piccolo, bass flute; Elizabeth Fleming: French horn; John Gattis: French horn; Christa
Robinson: oboe; Katie Scheele: oboe, English horn; Tim Feeney: percussion; Clara Warnaar: percussion; Jacob Garchik:
percussion; Mike Lormand: percussion; Gareth Flowers: trumpet, piccolo trumpet; Dan Peck: tuba; Dominic DeStefano:
viola; Hannah Levinson: viola; Miranda Sielaff: viola; Sam Bardfeld: violin; Maya Bennardo: violin; Jean Cook: violin;
Erica Dicker: violin; Mark Feldman: violin; Sarah Goldfeather: violin; Megan Gould: violin; Elena Moon Park: violin;
Mazz Swift: violin; Roland Burks: vocalist; Tomas Cruz: vocalist; Chris DiMeglio: vocalist; Walker J Jackson: vocalist;
Amirtha Kidambi: vocalist; Kyoko Kitamura: vocalist; Emilie Lesbros: vocalist; Kamala Sankaram: vocalist; Josh Sinton:
amplified contrabass clarinet.
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