With Orphans on the Road, trombonist Morgan Powell delivers a much more organized record than what he usually does with Tone Road Ramblers. The group accompanies him on the CD, augmented by vocalist Phoebe Legere, violinist Dorothy Matirano and tubist Dan Anderson. The music here is much more written and closer to contemporary chamber music than jazz. Pieces are dense and very hard to get into. These compositions lack a sense of freedom and fun found on the Tone Road Ramblers' CD The Ragdale Years. Phoebe Legere is put to very good use on the suite "Texas O Texas," her operatic singing bringing something lighter to the atmosphere. The double-trombone setting of Powell and Jim Staley gets center stage and offers some strong moments, especially in "Bubbles & Butts" (part 2 of "Texas O Texas," definitely the best piece on the album) while John Fonville's flute remains discreet. Orphans on the Road requires some very serious listening.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture