The New Emily Jazz Orchestra is an Italian octet that likes to play their postmodern jazz with a rough and rowdy edge. Playing a program of compositions by Antonio Ricco presents its own set of challenges, especially with his striated sense of harmonic interplay and tonal extravagance that juxtaposes free jazz, early swing and Dixieland jazz together in the same eight bars ("Riffs") or creates a expressionistic tango from Ravel's "Bolero" on "Bolero Boogie," with reed and winds leading the way (by Erio Vaccari, Mirco Novi, and Carlo Actis Dato on clarinets and tenor and baritone saxes) in a chase followed by stumbling piano, faltering trap drums and a bassline that splits itself down the middle of rhythm and improv. The harmonic architecture erected by Ricco here is best articulated by Marcello Franchini on electric guitar: He offers taut, razor sharp chords as the basis for a series of improv around the almost carnivalesque minor theme before ripping off a few arpeggios of his own. On the only non-Rocci tune, Benny Golson's "About Blues March," the New Emily Jazz Orchestra could have called it "About Face Blues March," since the horns are both playing and un-playing the theme at the same time leaving Paolo Panzani's piano to offer Golson's theme, or at least a likeable replica of it, in the main body of the lyrical intervention that is challenged wholesale by the pianist's solo! When the horn enter in with the familiar theme, cascading down the diatonic scale, the blues come rolling out with them and it's a free for all that nonetheless marches right on into a raucous silence. This is an incendiary album, one that is full of innovation, awesome playing and arranging, and laughs.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek