Ken Schaphorst's ensemble is not your father's big band. Indeed, in Purple, we hear an all-star, 18-strong ensemble making its way through a set of evocative soundscapes that Mingus himself would have loved. In organically evolving adventures like "Uprising," Schaphorst calls on strategies suggesting such varied influences as Ellington and Kenton, Gil Evans and Carla Bley, and time-warped oscillations annealing Basie to Cecil Taylor and Ornette Coleman.
Even in "Blues Almighty," the quirky riffs and wired-up solos by organist John Medeski and guitarist Brad Shepik pulverize the tradition in ways comparable to Jimi Hendrix and Bill Frisell at their outre best. In "Jobim," tenorman Seamus Blake waxes tropical as do Jamey Haddad on pandiero and Dane Richeson on berimbau. Another gem is the aptly tabbed "Subterranean" with Dave Taylor's bass trombone and Doug Yates' bass clarinet rumbling below. Not to be missed!