Jeff Kaiser

17 Themes for Ockodektet

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It is unclear what an "ockodektet" exactly is, but this unit of 17 musicians sports a radically free improvisatory aesthetic that combines the thrust of a traditional big jazz band with the sonorities of a chamber-like avant-garde ensemble. This is very much trumpeter Jeff Kaiser's show: He composed and arranged all the tunes, recorded and produced the CD, and presumably tied the string bow on each individual package. The group includes some of the best of the West Coast scene: names such as reed phenom Vinny Golia and radical guitarist Ernesto Diaz-Infante. Kaiser's solos are surprisingly accessible given the somewhat disjointed nature of his arrangements, which challenge the performers with complex rhythms and patterns. Whether focusing on lovely flute tones or Wagner-ian blasts of brass, Kaiser succeeds in holding the listener's attention without compromising the integrity of his vision. Some of the ensemble parts are a bit ragged and the sound quality is somewhat muddy, but if you can look beyond that, there is a tremendous potential, with much of it realized. Kaiser's paths sound surprisingly fresh and even the more static ensemble parts are filled with pregnant rumblings. Unfortunately, individual soloists are unidentified, but some of the intense reed work (for example, on "Figures to Be Actualities") is strikingly impressive.

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