214

Steven Bernstein's Millennial Territory Orchestra: We Are MTO

Mark Corroto By

Sign in to view read count
Jazz is fun again. Yes, in the hands of a showman like Steven Bernstein it can be a ball. Whether he is fronting his band Sexmob, playing sideman to Bobby Previte, or arranging tracks for Mario Pavone, he means to entertain us. And entertainment as in "that's show biz folks."

Maybe it was his early work with John Lurie's Lounge Lizards or his experience researching regional jazz bands as the musical director for Robert Altman's film Kansas City (1996) that turned him into a showman. He may have a love of cartoons from the 1930s and '40s, since they combined showmanship and physical comedy with the good feeling jazz of the times. Whatever it may be, his reverence for the irreverent will probably never get him into Lincoln Center. And that's just fine.

His Millennial Territory Orchestra is a nine-piece small band that reinvents the glory days of traveling jazz showmen playing an assortment of danceable blues and jazz. We re MTO is a follow up to MTO Volume 1 (Sunnyside, 2006).

MTO's music can travel back to the day, like its cover of the McKinney Cotton Picker's "Paducah," with all its slowly drawn out blues. But the year is 2008 not 1928, and the fidelity of the recording is much better. It's surprisingly authentic. MTO loves the tradition, and that's clear on its covers of the marijuana smoking "Viper Song" and Cecil Scott's "In A Corner," from 1929.

This is not your grandpa's jazz. That is, unless your pappy is one hip mother-jazzer. The MTO squeezes the grease out of the title tune (the only Bernstein original here), playing a funky sounding cousin to Billy Joe MacAllister's ode. Bernstein's music might be about the olden times but it never sounds old timey.

Doug Wieselman's clarinet transports The Beatles' classic "All You Need Is Love" from 1967 to some timeless Guy Lombardo dance and back again to 2008. Sure the sound is retro, but guitarists Doug Wamble and Matt Munisteri tear their unamplified guitars up on "Dickies Dream," the Count Basie classic. The disc ends with the scattered bass solo intro into "Its Tight Jim," a Chicago-via-New Orleans classic, played with just the right Bernstein twist.

Track Listing: We Are MTO; In a Corner; Makes No Difference; All You Need Is Love; Paducah; Dickies Dream; Viper Song; Its Tight Jim.

Personnel: Steven Bernstein: trumpet, slide trumpet; Clark Gayton: trombone; Charles Burnham: violin; Doug Wieselman: clarinet, tenor saxophone; Peter Apfelbaum: tenor and soprano saxophones; Erik Lawrence: baritone and soprano saxophones; Matt Munisteri: guitar, vocal; Ben Allison: bass; Ben Perowsky: drums; Doug Wamble: guitar, banjo and vocal (6, 7).

Title: We Are MTO | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: MOWO! Inc.


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read The Adventures of Zodd Zundgren CD/LP/Track Review The Adventures of Zodd Zundgren
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 16, 2017
Read Any Other Way CD/LP/Track Review Any Other Way
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 16, 2017
Read The Chase CD/LP/Track Review The Chase
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 16, 2017
Read Paint CD/LP/Track Review Paint
by Jerome Wilson
Published: October 16, 2017
Read A Pouting Grimace CD/LP/Track Review A Pouting Grimace
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 15, 2017
Read Witches Stew: A Tribute to Miles Davis CD/LP/Track Review Witches Stew: A Tribute to Miles Davis
by Doug Collette
Published: October 15, 2017
Read "B3tles: A Soulful Tribute To The Fab Four" CD/LP/Track Review B3tles: A Soulful Tribute To The Fab Four
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 6, 2017
Read "Rise Of Orion" CD/LP/Track Review Rise Of Orion
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 1, 2016
Read "Resting in a Fold of the Fog" CD/LP/Track Review Resting in a Fold of the Fog
by John Eyles
Published: March 16, 2017
Read "Bleak House" CD/LP/Track Review Bleak House
by Karl Ackermann
Published: September 15, 2017
Read "Tilt" CD/LP/Track Review Tilt
by Karl Ackermann
Published: May 18, 2017
Read "Chicago II" CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.