Jazz Composers Alliance Orchestra


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Flux documents the conjunction of jazz, rock, free music, and classical in the 1990s Boston scene. Recorded by the collective Jazz Composers Alliance Orchestra, it brings together some of the key players who contributed to bands such as les Miserables Brass Band, the Either/Orchestra, and Orange Then Blue. "Variations on a Theme by Jimi Hendrix," by Darrell Katz, seems to have these all under one roof, with the expected rock influences, but also an evocative passage highlighting Kathy Halvorson's solo oboe set over a vibraphone pattern. Each of the Alliance's two guest stars, Julius Hemphill and Sam Rivers, contributes a composition. Rivers' piece rests on rolling swing over a shifting metric foot, featuring small groups of soloists improvising collectively against dense orchestral textures. Hemphill's piece pays tribute to the tradition of the blues and features an anguished elegiac spot for the composer. Also on hand is John Medeski, before he found fame laying down acid jazz grooves with Medeski, Martin & Wood. Playing mostly acoustic piano, Medeski solos effectively on five of the tracks. The lesser-known members of the band, including saxophonist Rob Scheps, guitarists John Dirac and Jim Kelly, and trombonist David Harris, also add improvisational bite to the charts. For a session that stylistically covers so much ground and features so many distinctive personalities, it achieves remarkable cohesion.

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