Orchestra U.S.A.

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In the fall of 1962, John Lewis, with the assistance of Gunther Schuller and percussionist Harold Farberman, formed Orchestra U.S.A. The purpose of the huge orchestra (which included a string section…
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In the fall of 1962, John Lewis, with the assistance of Gunther Schuller and percussionist Harold Farberman, formed Orchestra U.S.A. The purpose of the huge orchestra (which included a string section and jazz soloists) was to perform original works that combined advanced jazz with classical music -- essentially third stream works. The ensemble's repertoire ranged from pompous to inspiring with material contributed by Lewis, Schuller, Gary McFarland, Benny Golson, Jimmy Giuffre, Hall Overton, Teo Macero, and others. Among the musicians who performed with Orchestra U.S.A. were Gerry Mulligan and Ornette Coleman. The venture lasted three years, until 1965. Orchestra U.S.A. recorded obscure albums for Colpix (1963) and Columbia (two in 1964) that included players such as Herb Pomeroy, Nick Travis, Leo Wright, Phil Woods, John Lewis, Jim Hall, Richard Davis, Connie Kay, Eric Dolphy, Coleman Hawkins, Benny Golson, Thad Jones, Joe Newman, and Jerome Richardson. In addition, the Sextet of Orchestra U.S.A. made an album for RCA in 1964.