Adam Lane's Full Throttle Orchestra

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Big band jazz never sounded so good, or so perverse, depending on your perspective, as it does with Adam Lane's Full Throttle Orchestra. Contradictions abound, as the "Orchestra" is not really an orchestra at all, consisting of merely six or seven musicians, depending on the piece. Yet the sounds are so robust, so huge, that you could be excused for thinking you were listening to a fifteen or twenty piece ensemble. Lane is a prankster at heart: Not only are his song titles clever, but he enjoys setting up the listener by leading him down a path and then switching gears on a moment's notice. Fortunately, his writing skills are rock solid, and he enjoys a breadth of appreciation for a range of styles, from whip-thrashing free-style jazz to hard-hitting blues to new electronica to hard bop. It is all swirled together in a mélange of weirdness, with the complicated written parts relying on difficult rhythmic twists. Fortunately, the individual improvisations are up to the task, with some particularly hot solos from electric guitarist John Finkbeiner and saxophonist Jeff Chan. There's hardly a weak moment on this full-length recording, which is a blast from beginning to end. Sure, it is not all easy listening, but baby, it swings and rocks, and touches outer space in the process. Sun Ra, catch it if you can!

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