Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Either/Orchestra - More beautiful than death [2000] [usa]

Either/Orchestra with Tsedenia Markos live in Ethiopia - Bati

      The Either/Orchestra (E/O) is a jazz group formed by Russ Gershon in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, in 1985. 

      E/O is configured as a "small big band", with three saxes, two trumpets and one or two trombones. E/O's is characterized by a heavier and more orchestrated sound than that of a smaller jazz combo, but remains more streamlined and improvisation-oriented than most big bands.

       With a small but significant change of instrumentation - add congas/percussion, remove one trombone - and major changes in personnel - only bandleader Russ Gershon and veterans Tom Halter and Charlie Kohlhase are holdovers from their last album - the E/O has made its most sensual, rhythm-heavy recording ever.

       Famous for the breadth of its musical vision, the E/O rides the powerful drums of Harvey Wirht, from Suriname, and the exciting congas of Vicente Lebron, from the Dominican Republic, on a trip from North American jazz/blues/funk, to Latin jazz, and Township jazz/calypso, to Ethiopian pop tunes from the '70s. All of these grooves are incorporated into original compositions by Gershon, except for the three Ethiopian tunes which have been arranged by the band.

     The result is an intoxicating brew, forceful and seductive, with memorable melodies, superb ensemble playing and some of the best soloing ever heard in the long history of the Either/Orchestra. This is without a doubt the most accessible E/O album ever. The groove emphasis brings the E/O's tradition of challenging writing and cutting edge playing into a form that will be enjoyed by fans of African music, Latin music, even reggae and jam bands, without losing the core of E/O fans and jazz critics.

Tom Halter - trumpet, flugelhorn
Colin Fisher - trumpet, flugelhorn
Joel Yennior - trombone
Jaleel Shaw - alto saxophone
Russ Gershon - tenor, soprano saxophones
Charlie Kohlhase - baritone saxophone
Dan Kaufman - Steinway, Rhodes and Wurlitzer pianos, Hammond B-3
Rick McLaughlin - bass
Harvey Wirht - drums
Vicente Lebron - congas, bongos, percussion

1. Amiak Abet Abet (Teshome Sissay; arr. by E/O; 10:03)
2. Number Three (10:20)
3. More Beautiful than Death (10:46)
4. Musicawi Silt (Girma Beyene; arr. by E/O; 6:21)
5. Breaktime for Dougo (8:35)
6. All Those SOBs (8:58)
7. Slow Mambo for J.J. (4:53)
8. Feker Aydelmwey (Ayalew Mesfin; arr. by E/O; 7:09)
9. The Eighth Wonder (6:54)

       The E/O began performing original arrangements of Ethiopian songs, inspired by a compilation called Ethiopian Groove: the Golden 70s

    In 2000, after three of these songs appeared on the album More Beautiful than Death, Francis Falceto, the producer of Ethiopian Groove, contacted Gershon and eventually arranged an invitation for the E/O to play at the Ethiopian Music Festival in Addis Ababa in 2004. Along with Indo-British singer Susheela Raman the same year, the E/O was the first non-Ethiopian artist to appear in the festival, and was the first US big band to appear in Ethiopia since Duke Ellington's in 1973. 

     Their concert at the festival was recorded and ultimately appeared in Falceto's Ethiopiques series on the French Buda Musique label. 

   Five Ethiopian guests appear on the recording: Mulatu Astatke, Getatchew Mekurya, Tsedenia Markos, Bahta Hewet and Michael Belayneh. This tour and recording have led to an ongoing collaboration with Astatke, the primary founder of Ethiopian jazz, concerts with Ethiopian expatriates singer Hana Shenkute, krar player Minale Dagnew, masinko player Setegn Atanaw, and the great Ethiopian singer Mahmoud Ahmed with whom E/O released a DVD in 2007. 

    Mahmoud Ahmed and fellow legendary Ethiopian singer Alemayehu Eshete played Lincoln Center Out of Doors in 2008 backed by E/O. 

    The group debuted a collaboration with vocalist Teshome Mitiku in the summer of 2010, including a headlining appearance at the Chicago Jazz Festival.

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2b0rn0t0b said...