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Pierre Dørge and New Jungle Orchestra: China Jungle

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It has often been said that European jazz musicians do not have the benefit of immersion in the root culture of jazz here in America. The flip side of that coin is that they are perhaps less subject to the assumptions of the American mainstream, and more open to the applicability of sounds from different cultures. At least, this CD would support the argument: guitarist Dørge has been fronting the Copenhagen-based New Jungle Orchestra since 1980. In the course of the band’s 1996 visit to Beijing and Shanghai, they encountered Yu Jun, who plays guzheng, the Chinese harp; and Zhao Ben, who plays xun (flute) and erhu (violin). Yu and Zhao were invited to join the band in a Copenhagen studio, contributing to six of the 15 tracks. Dørge carries the influence through the rest of the album with atmospheric nods to the Chinese pentatonic scale and frequent use of parallel moving voices in his arrangements. Dørge and company can also claim more traditional influences, including Duke and Quincy Jones. Never a dull moment here, and many a fascinating one.