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Published: 1998/11/15
by Max Delaney

The Miracle Orchestra: Coalesce

The Miracle Orchestra is a fine-tuned six piece ensemble hailing from Boston, Massachusetts and their latest album entitled Coalescence offers a variety of grooves for the discerning ear. There are a plethora of influences on this album and for me to bother to draw comparisons to all of these influences would not only be time consuming but more importantly it would diminish the honesty of the band’s music.

Listening to this album, one can hear a very unique and different approach to jazz, funk, Latin, and free form improvisation. Simply stated, they are a difficult band to assign to a particular genre and they like it this way. The Miracle Orchestra seems to be the kind of band that is more interested in creating a beautiful blend of tones and textures than worrying about what style of music they’re playing and this comes through on the album. If you’re wondering more specifically what to expect on this album then I’ll offer a few of my favorite highlights. The guitar comping on “Boob” and “Youthful Agenda” is funkier than the two month old milk sitting in the back of your refrigerator. Geoff Scott (guitar) plays nice little bass lines underneath his chords on these tunes and it really fills out the whole sound of the groove. The horn parts and bass lines lock in very well and are inventive and refreshing. And the head from “Call It Nine” is downright groovy as each player is doing something different but all the parts are locking together to make a whole greater (and funkier) than the sum of it’s parts.

Other highlights on the album are the wandering free form compositions of “He” and “She” which flow through different feels and tempo changes in a very fluid, dreamy way. The interaction between drummer, Bill Carbone, and bass player, Garrett Sayers on “She” is incredibly tight and they both demonstrate what it means to achieve freedom in the groove by throwing in polyrhythmic phrases all over the place and then taking turns passing these phrases back and forth from drums to bass. And of course one Life of JuanValdez” (we’ve all wondered whether this mystery man and his mule are really just coffee vendors or whether the have some other shady business going on).

In closing, this album is definitely worth checking out. The musicianship on the album is great and the overall sound production of this album is beautiful. The band plays tasteful, original grooves, which soothe the ears and broaden the mind. My only complaint is that at times on the album, I wish they would turn up the power a bit on some of the jams and not be afraid to swell even more in their dynamics. But then again, we all know that an album is rarely an accurate representation of a band’s live sound. After listening the band’s ability on this album, I’m awfully curious to go see what their live show is all about. Aren’t you?

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