Maritime Jazz Orchestra: Now and Now Again

Saxophonist Greg Carter’s Maritime Jazz Orchestra focuses on the big-band arrangements of England’s outstanding trumpeter/composer Kenny Wheeler. The Orchestra’s last recording was nominated for a Juno award, the Canadian counterpart of a Grammy. Now and Now Again (Justin Time) showcases three more of Wheeler’s works, along with one by pianist John Taylor. Wheeler, Taylor and vocalist Norma Winstone (who together constitute the British group Azimuth) also appear as soloists. The four pieces range in length from Wheeler’s eight-minute title track to his almost 30-minute “Sweet Ruby Suite.” Those figures could be misleading, however, since the compositions (they could never be called “tunes”) typically involve shifting meters, tempos, styles and moods. And by definition, the suite consists of several sections that could stand alone. Still, this is music that rewards close and repeated listening. It’s at times complex, but it’s also very accessible-it can be gracefully melodic and it can swing. The ensemble handles the often-difficult charts with expertise and the local soloists maintain the high standard set by the visitors.