Gunther Schuller

Jumpin' in the Future

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George Schuller, drummer and one of the founders of the Boston jazz orchestra Orange Then Blue, ran across some of his father's older unrecorded arrangements, obtained a grant to preserve the pieces on disc, and then surprised his father, Gunther Schuller, with news of his discovery. Both Schullers worked with Orange Then Blue to rehearse the difficult charts, and they have documented some important works on this CD, all but two of which predate the elder Schuller's first ventures into Third Stream music. The earliest composition, "Jumpin' in the Future" (from 1947), is possibly the first atonal jazz work, heavily influenced by contemporary classical music but still using jazz phrasing and a lightly swinging rhythm section. While Schuller's rendition of "When the Saints Go Marching In" is really a wholly written-out classical fantasy based on the first four notes of that standard, several other arrangements ("Blue Moon," "Anthropology," and "Yesterdays") are heavily influenced by Gil Evans' work with Claude Thornhill, although all are a step closer to classical music than Evans' work of the time. "Summertime" also seems reminiscent of Gil Evans but actually dates from 1949, nine years before Evans recorded his famous version with Miles Davis. "Night Music," originally a 1961 feature for Eric Dolphy, has Howard Johnson doing an extraordinary imitation of Dolphy on bass clarinet. The concluding work (1966's "Teardrop") is a bit dry, with its five movements seeking to portray the five senses. It is a pity that Gunther Schuller's adventurous charts were not recorded when they were originally composed, for they might have strongly influenced the orchestral music of the 1960s; they still sound quite fresh and exciting. Highly recommended.

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