Jazz Composers Alliance Orchestra: Celebration of Spirit

Way back in 1986, Darrell Katz and Ken Schaphorst established the Jazz Composers Alliance Orchestra in Boston as a regional outlet for composers, conductors and instrumentalists devoted to contemporary chamber jazz. Celebration of the Spirit (CIMP) utilizes 17 instrumentalists in various configurations for its eight tracks, with the composers conducting. It was recorded in one day of 11 intensive hours with no cut-and-paste editing. What you hear is what they played.

Inevitably there is a wide range of contemporary experimentation: some of it lush, some of it in desperate need of WD-40. In one extreme, Mike Peipman’s clarion trumpeting enhances the Latin pulsating big band on “How to Say Goodbye.” The most colorful orchestral/percussive weaving can be found on Katz’s “Ice Time.” By the time Laura Andel begins banging on the piano in her “Nodes,” the mood turns weird. Finally, the 19-minute “Th-Outward,” is so defiantly atonal, no one will ever hum the licks by tenor saxophonist Phil Scarff or trombonist/composer David Harris.