Jazz Composers Orchestra

Jazz Composers Orchestra

by Jazz Composer's OrchestraJazz Composer's Orchestra


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German-born composer/trumpeter Michael Mantler and his then-wife Carla Bley were instrumental in developing within jazz the idea of self-sufficiency and independence from established record companies. Their creation of the Jazz Composer's Orchestra, with recordings released on their own label, was the culmination of this endeavor, and the first recording was one of the masterpieces of creative music in the '60s. Mantler had come from the European avant-classical tradition and sought to provide an orchestral framework supporting some of the most advanced musicians in avant-garde jazz -- and he succeeded magnificently. His style tends toward the brooding and darkly romantic with harsh, cynical edges, a perfect foil for the robust, shackle-breaking improvisations found herein. The cloudy, roiling swirls that open "Communications #8," echoed by Bley's stabbing piano chords, lay the groundwork for inspired soloing by Don Cherry and the pre-Last Tango and still extremely fiery Gato Barbieri. Subsequent pieces include an amazing feedback showcase for Larry Coryell and a gorgeous, somber work featuring bassist Steve Swallow and trombonist Roswell Rudd. All of this is a preview for, well, "Preview," an utterly incendiary flight by Pharoah Sanders over a pounding rhythm by the orchestra, a piece that will leave the listener bruised, battered, and exhilarated. Except that the best is yet to come: a 34-minute, two-part composition, a concerto for Cecil Taylor and orchestra, that finds the pianist at the height of his powers, just beginning to enter the third phase of his development where he fused ultra-high energy playing with rigorous logic and heartbreaking beauty. The breadth of this piece, its expansiveness, and its tension between order and chaos is one of the single high watermarks of avant-garde jazz. Communications is a masterwork in and of itself and laid the basis for stunning work by others in decades hence, notably Barry Guy and his London Jazz Composer's Orchestra. It's an essential document for anyone interested in avant jazz and late-20th century creative music.

Product Details

Release Date: 11/18/2008
Label: Ecm Import
UPC: 0042284112420
catalogNumber: 841124
Rank: 51182


  1. Communications #8
  2. Communications #9
  3. Communications #10
  4. Preview
  5. Communications #11, Pt. 1
  6. Communications #11, Pt. 2

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Jazz Composer's Orchestra   Primary Artist
Jack Bruce   Bass,Vocals
Gato Barbieri   Tenor Saxophone,Soloist
Carla Bley   Piano,Keyboards,Vocals
Ron Carter   Bass
Don Cherry   Horn
Larry Coryell   Guitar,Soloist,Group Member
Andrew Cyrille   Bass,Drums
Richard Davis   Bass
Eddie Gomez   Bass
Beaver Harris   Drums
Jimmy Knepper   Trombone
Steve Lacy   Saxophone,Soprano Saxophone
Jimmy Lyons   Saxophone,Alto Saxophone
Michael Mantler   Trumpet,Conductor
Roswell Rudd   Trombone,Soloist,Group Member
Steve Swallow   Bass,Soloist
Lew Tabackin   Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone
Cecil Taylor   Piano,Soloist,Group Member
Julius Watkins   Horn,French Horn
Howard Johnson   Tuba
Reggie Johnson   Bass
Steve Marcus   Saxophone,Soprano Saxophone
Charles Davis   Saxophone
Alan Silva   Bass
George Barrow   Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone
Randy Brecker   Flugelhorn,Horn
Kent Carter   Bass
Bob Cunningham   Bass
Bob Donovan   Saxophone,Alto Saxophone
Stephen Furtado   Flugelhorn
Gibbons   Saxophone,Soprano Saxophone
Charlie Haden   Bass
Gene Hull   Saxophone,Alto Saxophone
Jack Jeffers   Trombone,Bass Trombone
Lloyd Michaels   Flugelhorn,Horn
Robert Northern   Horn,French Horn
Reggie Workman   Bass
Pharoah Sanders   Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone,Soloist,Group Member
Frank Wess   Saxophone,Alto Saxophone,Group Member

Technical Credits

Michael Mantler   Producer
Cecil Taylor   Liner Notes
Paul Goodman   Engineer
Paul Haines   Liner Notes
Timothy Marquand   Liner Notes

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