The acclaimed Italian Instabile Orchestra had, by the time of this release, produced several distinguished recordings, and was much heralded in the jazz polls. What distinguishes this one is the gorgeous, oversized, 80-page booklet (including detailed essays by orchestra members and others and more than a dozen beautiful [mostly] color pictures) that accompanies the CD, the unusual selection of performances, and the guest artists. In producing the album, French horn-player Martin Mayes assembled recorded tracks from recent concerts, compiling a sort of "best of" collection that captures the spirit of the orchestra's live performances at least as well as previous efforts. By leaving in verbal introductions, choosing tunes that are representative of the group's repertoire, and through careful editing, the full-length recording gives the appearance of a well-performed single performance. The final track, Mario Schiano's classic "Sud," adds trumpeter Lester Bowie, who solos compellingly at length. Highlights abound throughout the recording, with magnificent arrangements and solos by many members of the orchestra, including trombonists Giancarlo Schiaffini and Sebi Tramontana; saxophonists Mario Schiano, Gianluigi Trovesi, and Carlo Actis Dato; French horn-player Martin Mayes; and percussionist Tiziano Tononi, among others. The results startle with their humorous sophistication, creativity, and lyricism, with genres dissolved and stereotypes discarded. Admirers of the Orchestra will wish to own this glorious package, and this may be the best place, too, for novices to enter into the zany world of Italian jazz and free improvisation.
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AllMusic Review by Steve Loewy