On Unity of Action, Rhodes player and composer Jacob Anderskov has the enviable task of writing pieces for a front line that can at any time consist of trumpet, cornet, alto sax, clarinet, tenor sax, bass clarinet, and trombone. The colors at his disposal seem limitless. But many writers have become stymied by all this choice, instead presenting music that is stilted and overly determined.
Anderskov instead has brought material that is loose, varied and fun, making this octet more of a dynamic small group than a brass-heavy large ensemble. His Mwandishi-like rhythm section of Rhodes, electric bass and pounding drums assures listeners this is not another foray into "blat-blat, blat-blat-blat" big band charts. There is precedent to this looser approach in Sun Ra, Zappa, the Brotherhood of Breath, and Soft Machine.
But Unity of Action is not a pastiche of time-tested approaches, or at least it does not come across as such. The best description is that it sounds like what the Dave Holland Big Band could sound like if it just lightened up a little bit and stopped being so precise. This is not to say that Anderskov and his bandmates are sloppy or undisciplined. Rather, Anderskov has written tunes that are arranged to expand like a gas, rather than pierce like a ray.
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