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May 2009

Mike Holober & the Gotham Jazz Orchestra
Quake
Sunnyside

With exquisite textures and evocative arrangements that recall Gil Evans, and an Ellingtonian balance between ensemble and individual excellence, Mike Holober and his 17-piece Gotham Jazz Orchestra have evolved a special synthesis. This latest collection brings us four Holober originals, a makeover of “Roc & a Soft Space” (which appeared in quartet form on his Canyon in 2003), and two audacious covers, “Here Comes the Sun” from the Beatles’ songbook and the Rolling Stones’ “Ruby Tuesday.”

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Rainer Fehringer

Mike Holober

Neither of these rock standards sounds at all crass or commercial as Holober & Co. work them over. Reeds, muted trumpets and Holober at the piano set up a drizzly launching pad in the George Harrison tune before the mutes come off and Dave Pietro blazes into a fiery alto peroration. At nine minutes, this meditation is a full four minutes shorter than the exploration of the Keith Richards-Mick Jagger line, featuring a relatively placid trombone solo from Mark Patterson, Tim Ries swinging hard on tenor, and guitarist Steve Cardenas turning on the distortion halfway through his stint at about the 11-minute mark.

All the originals are superb, with the title tune and the slow waltzing “Thrushes” sporting the most fascinating colors. Holober has his own definition of “quake”: the sound of autumn leaves rustling in the wind. That quietly surprising individualism and beauty are never absent for long.

Originally published in May 2009
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