Even though Canadian saxophonist Paul Cram has led his orchestra for years, first in Toronto and then Halifax, Campin Out is the first recording by this ensemble since the 1987 LP Beyond Benghazi. One cannot accuse Cram of being too prolific. Yet, and as strongly written and performed as the music on this CD is, it fails to leave a lasting impression. Progressive big bands like Cram's abound, especially in Canadian territory: Kappa, the NOW Orchestra, the Hard Rubber Orchestra, etc. This ensemble remains one step below the others, which does not imply the music is uninteresting. Cram's writing flirts with funk. The rhythm section can groove nicely, although the bassist's solo on the title track is surprisingly unimaginative. The composer knows how to polish punchy harmolodic brass lines and gradually weave together unrelated strands of melodies in contrapuntal form to attain a climax. But these tricks are not new: Lawrence "Butch" Morris, George Lewis, and John Korsrud explored the same territories a while ago. And Cram's repeated use of samples (crowd chatter, airplanes, road traffic) often sounds gratuitous. There are still some inspired moments in the title track and "Trouble in Paradise." The lineup for this recording consists of Cram (tenor sax), Don Palmer (saxes, flute), Jeff Reilly (clarinets), Christoph Both (cello), Richard Simoneau (trumpet), Tom Walsh (trombone), Steven Naylor (keyboards), John Gzowski (electric guitar), Jamie Gatti (electric bass), and Dave Burton (drums). All but one track were recorded live at the Music Gallery in Toronto on May 17, 2000, and at the Victoriaville Festival the next day.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture