Jon Catler

Evolution for Electric Guitar and Orchestra

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After pioneering microtonal jazz-rock with his power trio Catler Bros., guitarist Jon Catler offers with Evolution for Electric Guitar and Orchestra a microtonal approach to third stream jazz. Armed with his 62-tone just intonation electric guitar and an orchestra comprising a string quintet (two violins, viola, cello, upright bass), percussion, just intonation electric bass, and two singers, he created an enrapturing, if not slightly uneven, ambitious piece. A concerto of sorts in four movements, the work draws on jazz, contemporary classical music, Indian folk, and the works of microtonal composers like LaMonte Young and Harry Partch. "Evolution," the first movement, builds up from delicate drone-like textures to a tempered climax. The carefully crafted dissonances and meditative atmosphere will not reappear in the course of the piece. "Consummation" could be described as dreamy, a just intonation version of electric guitar-driven space music. "Nomads" introduces a funky groove and gets uncomfortably close to some deplorable attempts at fusing classical and jazz rock in the late '70s -- luckily the just intonation system brings just enough strangeness to keep things interesting. "Finale" recalls the latter-day Mahavishnu Orchestra paired with a chamber ensemble playing Partch's instruments. Not entirely convincing, Evolution for Electric Guitar and Orchestra still makes for a fascinating listen.

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