Carla Bley's 1993 recording Big Band Theory features her 18-piece orchestra playing three rather moody and atmospheric originals, plus a straightforward rendition of Charles Mingus' "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat." Listeners expecting the rambunctious humor that was present in some of Bley's earlier big band albums will be disappointed, but there is quite a bit of beauty on this set, particularly during the dramatic slow section of "Birds of Paradise" and the strangely episodic "On the Stage in Cages." Key among the soloists are trumpeter Lew Soloff, trombonist Gary Valente, altoist Wolfgang Puschnig, Andy Sheppard on tenor, and violinist Alex Balanescu. But overall this set (which is enjoyable enough) is less memorable than one would expect from Carla Bley.
AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow