Orange Then Blue

Hold the Elevator: Live in Europe & Other Haunts

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OTB have made great strides in the past 15 years to lead the way in innovation amongst large modern ensembles. On these concert sessions from N.Y.C., Berlin, and Nijmegen, the Netherlands, the George Schuller-led group shows a love for Balkan-cum-Weill/Carla Bley circus jazz, free improvisation in and out of frameworks, a grand collective spirit, a propensity for seven-beat measures, dark swinging, maniacal solos, and an intense desire to be different. The five saxophonists -- Chris Speed, Andrew D'Angelo, Andy Laster, Peck Allmond, and Matt Darriau -- are continually astonishing. Keyboardists Jamie Saft and Tim Ray are up to the challenge when called upon. Tom Varner, French horn throughout, the amazing cellist Rufus Cappadocia (one cut), and drummer Schuller keep things in line, whether percolatin' or spooky. The cellist's feature "Rufus 7" (there's that seven) is the last of three cuts that front-end the CD. The kicker, "Alino Oro," is the quirky upbeat Balkan piece, while number two, Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn's "Smada" (arranged by trumpeter Dave Ballou) is laden in a flip-flop, free-to-tango swing, dramatic and replete with clarion calls -- a simply brilliant reworking. The latter half of the nine-cut program offers a lengthy interpretation of Tim Berne's pungent stomper "Bloodcount" and an evil, wailin' take (recorded in the Netherlands) of Andrew D'Angelo's seven-beat ostinato juggernaut "Sich Reped." Steadfast in their stance, reliable improvisers such as the OTB collective should never be taken lightly. This around-the-world audio triptych of a well-oiled creative working ensemble is over 70 minutes of sheer delight.

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