Orchestra Superstring

Orchestra Superstring

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Orchestra Superstring, a medium-sized combo based out of Los Angeles, might get its name from the presence of two guitarists, Carey Fosse and Woody Jackson. While it is true that a pair of guitarists a superstring orchestra doth not make, it is also true that, in the L.A. jazz scene, everything is going to have be done on the cheap. The sound of this group is actually more thick with percussion than guitars, the tracks including up to three different conga drummers plus the vibraphone of D.J. Bonebrake often taking a lead voice. The blurry black and white insert photograph displays a bunch of weirdos jamming, perhaps giving the listener the idea that this is going to be a pretty freaky session, a suspicion confirmed by the presence of a Sun Ra cover. Yet the Latin percussion and groovy vibes bring to mind something much lighter, along the lines of a Cal Tjader side. There is also quite a lounge ambience, the guitarists often coming up with a twangy reverb sound that would have made Tjader cough up his Rice-A-Roni.

The opening track "Silberstrasse" sets the tone, presenting a theme that desires to haunt and sounds like something one might have already heard, but can't quite place. It is one of Bonebrake's compositions; on this record, several different members contribute pieces, but an overwhelming similarity pervades. There are many slow tempos and minor chords and the interplay is moody rather than intense. The Sun Ra cover, "A Call to All Demons," is, in some ways, the most substantial, but this opinion does not represent an outright dismissal of the original writing that is featured. At its best, Orchestra Superstring displays the wonderful potential of a group of this size, combining the aforementioned percussion and guitars with trumpet and trombone to sound like a much larger band. Jackson makes interesting use of something identified as a "guitorgan," perhaps one of the "guitar organs" the Vox company originally created for Brian Jones.

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