Billy Tipton Memorial Saxophone Quartet

Pollo d'Oro

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Ne Zhdali was first and foremost a live band. The kind of unbridled craziness (and creativity) the group unleashed on-stage translated only partially in the studio (although Whatever Happens, Twist! came very close). In addition to being a studio album, Pollo d'Oro ("golden chicken") sees the quintet -- trombonist Ilja Komarov is gone AWOL -- collaborating and compromising with Amy Denio's Billy Tipton Memorial Saxophone Quartet. The results are cruelly disappointing, but it would be too easy to put the blame squarely on the Americans' shoulders. The compositions combine Rova-like contemporary sax music with funkier licks and avant-rock beats and structures. But the lack of vocals on most tracks (and therefore a strongly diminished presence from Leonid Soybelman) and stiff playing make for a lackluster album. The project took shape thanks to a grant and the artists had only a week to decide what to do and record it. The Billy Tipton Memorial Saxophone Quartet get through the set very well, but obviously the Ne Zhdali musicians didn't have a chance to grow comfortable with the material and explode. Only in "Kansas" do they sound like Ne Zhdali. "The 8th Day" hits closer to Kletka Red, while the rest consists only of an ersatz of what these musicians (all nine of them) are capable of.

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