A jazz sextet with a koto? It happened in Lynette Westendorf's ensemble Animal Dreams. Its unique instrumentation of trumpet, saxophone/flute (two), koto, piano, double bass, and percussion is only the beginning, though, because Westendorf's writing could hardly be limited to jazz. It embraces classical music and world influences as much as bop. "Albanton and Pythagoras (Postlude)" uses 12-tone rows from Alban Berg's "Lulu" and "Violin Concerto." Indian tablas provide the rhythmic drive on "A Circle of Bears" while "Surrounded By Green" opens with a koto solo (nicely played by Elisabeth Falconer) before a jazzier mood settles in. As for the aforementioned "Albanton and Pythagoras," it weaves together chamber music and bop in an original way -- Westendorf also shines on piano on this track. Surrounded By Green's originality is refreshing without being shocking or provocative -- and it puts the koto in one very unusual setting.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture