Either/Orchestra

Across the Omniverse

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Marking the tenth anniversary of their existence as a performing unit, Across the Omniverse is a two-CD set which documents live recordings from 1986-1995. There are six different configurations of the band, each containing a shifting cast of ten or 11 members and the selections offer a good representation of the type of material they generally performed. Essentially, they are a just slightly left of mainstream group with fairly "standard" charts augmented by soloists quite capable of playing outside. Leader Russ Gershon showed a strong affinity for Ellington and Mingus as well as various modern masters like Roscoe Mitchell. The original compositions range from smart and catchy (Gershon's "Theme From the E-Men") to several others that sound more murky and sluggish. As in any Either/Orchestra affair, however, much of the fun is in the uncannily weird choices they make with regard to cover songs. Recordings that include versions of songs by both Burt Bacharach and John Tchicai must be few and far between, not to mention a sludgy, hard rock version of John Lennon's "(I Want You) She's So Heavy." Fans of the ensemble will certainly want this release, but newcomers would be better served by earlier, and more solid, albums like The Calculus of Pleasure or The Half-Life of Desire.

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