Afro-Cubism – Either/Orchestra
Accurate Records 3283
In these reviewing gigs over the past year or two, I've picked up a number
of CDs from the East Coast, but outside the hectic confines of NYC, that
could be sampled on a mix tape: Jazz That Won't Change The World. This
Boston big band offering fits the bill. The Either/Orchestra comes off here
as a fine-tuned ensemble, working a musical vein now sadly close to
extinction, which is content simply to do what it chooses to do quite well.
As the title punningly suggests, this disc mostly deals in Afro-Cuban and
Latin grooves. Each member of the 10-piece ensemble gets some solo space,
but no one steals the show, although new keyboardist Greg Burk comes
closest, with his electric piano soloing over a sambafied rhythm section in
"Soul Song" bringing uncanny memories of early Return To Forever. Burk also
contributes the ballad "Look To The Lion," the most arresting original here.
Bandleader Russ Gershon contributes the sophisticated "Harvey's Entrance,"
an exercise in nanigo polyrhythms ("Blue Attitude") and a lengthy piece
moving through funk and Latin grooves (the aforementioned "Soul Song"), as
well as an arrangement of the Ethiopian jazz standard "Yezamed Yebaed."
Somewhat ironically, a salsa-fied take on George Harrison's "Don't Bother
Me" is both a rare instance of attention-getting humor and the most
memorable tune on the disc. In the time elapsed between the recording and
mastering of the CD (June to December '01), it also unintentionally
transformed into a possible elegiac nod to Harrison.
Once a part of the mainstream, this sort of music is now far outside it.
However, the Either/Orchestra brings it into the present without flashiness
or any undue fuss. It's a good attitude in the face of less than ideal