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UMO Jazz Orchestra/Kenny Wheeler/Norma Winstone: One More Time

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The UMO record with Kenny Wheeler & Norma Winstone is elaborately arranged and flawlessly played, but it leaves me underwhelmed. Certainly listeners who pick up this disc anticipating the kind of exploratory bent that characterized the trumpeter’s early work will be disappointed.

For their part, UMO do a fine job, rendering difficult passages with enthusiasm and finesse. The soloists are generally convincing, sounding a lot like their American counterparts without being either overly imitative or particularly original. But listening to One More Time for traces of the musician whose major influences included Booker Little and Eric Dolphy is bewildering. Listeners who first saw Wheeler’s name on ECM record sleeves will be at an advantage. Maybe students of orchestration will be able to glean some pleasure from touches like the use of Winstone’s voice as if it were another instrumental member of the ensemble, but jazz lovers may nod off waiting for something to happen that they can relate to.