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Published: 2003/09/28
by Chris Gardner

Neo-Modernism – Either/Orchestra

Accurate Records 3284

The newest release form the Either/Orchestra, a ten-piece jazz ensemble
from Boston, looks to the masters of modern jazz for inspiration. The
group consciously draws from Coltrane, Monk, Mingus, Shorter, and the
later, more electrified flights of Miles Davis. The results bear the
stamp of the greats in more ways than one. One can't help but hear the
'Trane's echo in Russ Gershon's soprano sax work on "Los Olvidados" or the
decidedly Monkish board work from Gregory Burk on "Baby Does Monk," but
mimicry only gets one so far. Ask any of those folks who spent years
searching for Bird's sound how far it got them. The tougher trick is to
capture the heart and spirit of the music, and this group knows it.

"The
Modernist" reeks of
Mingus in the best way (I'm thinking particularly of _Blues and
Roots_ here). The foot-stompin', hand-clappin' swagger that filled
the room during Mingus classic sessions whispers through this track,
infusing it wish a breath of Mingusian mojo.
"Heavily Amplified Hairpiece" similarly conjures the intrepid cosmic flights
of Bitches Brew by casting unmanned, electrified sounds outward and
waiting for the rebound.

In final analysis, the disc never perfectly captures the grit and grandeur
of the
great sessions (after all, what does?), but the approach has merit.
Bandleader and principal
composer Russ Gershon seems to understand that imitation is suicide. In
the album's best moments, the group mimics the approach rather than the
sound. It is not a matter of playing the same thing, but exploring in the
same way, launching from the same place. The finished product is
challenging, exploratory, occasionally unsettling, and often eye-popping —
a
fitting tribute to the men chosen as inspiration.

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