When a musician uses the word "amazing" to describe his orchestra, it isn't hard to be cynical and wonder if he/she just might have an inflated ego. But Thomas Jäderlund is one musician who has every right to pat himself on the back; the band that he calls his Amazing Orchestra really is as impressive as he claims it is. On this superb two-CD set, the Swedish saxophonist/composer takes more than his share of chances and is never the least bit predictable. If you're looking for a lot of tired, worn-out bop clichés and knee-jerk performances of overdone standards, you won't find them here. Jäderlund strives for originality, and the material (most of it written by Jäderlund himself) is remarkably fresh sounding. It is also mildly avant-garde -- "mildly" being the operative word. The performances are more inside than outside, and as eccentric and quirky as Jäderlund can be, everything he does makes sense. He and his fellow Europeans (who include trumpeter Tomasz Stanko and guitarist Christy Doran) never fail to be musical on this Swedish release, which contains a wide variety of influences. Classical, European marching bands, circus music, world music -- all of those influences serve Jäderlund well. World music is a major influence, and the Amazing Orchestra (which is really a septet) incorporates elements of everything from Scandinavian folk to Argentinean tango. In fact, the late tango innovative Astor Piazzolla is a major influence on "Tjao." Listening to Thomas Jäderlund Amazing Orchestra in its entirety takes almost 139 minutes; that's a lot of music to absorb, but listeners should make the effort because Jäderlund brings so much creativity to this excellent double CD.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2