Guitarist Pierre Dorge's New Jungle Orchestra has a very fitting title, for although they do not perform any Duke Ellington songs on their varied CD (the moody "Fullmoon for a Rhino" comes the closest style-wise), the adventure of Duke's music (along with an inventive use of wah-wah mutes and tone colors) is certainly present. A major surprise occurs halfway through the program when one realizes that this "big band" has no regular trumpeters and utilizes just two trombones and two reeds. Performing 13 originals from band members (including ten by either the leader or pianist Irene Becker) plus Carl Nielsen's early church hymn, the New Jungle Orchestra mixes together advanced improvising, celebratory melodies ("Ritus Huju #1" sounds as if it could have come from Abdullah Ibrahim), and some tightly arranged pieces with infectious and inventive rhythms and constant surprises in their highly appealing program. The music often sounds as if it is part of a wondrous and unusual jungle, and even at its spaciest, the performances generally border on being jubilant. This continually intriguing set is a gem.
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AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow
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