Free Jazz Blog, Mary’s Ideas

05-12-2021 Free Jazz Blog

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Mary's Ideas

” At its heart, Umlaut Big Band presents as a classic dance band, with a big sound and dazzling solos. There are no overtly radical twists or inversions—unlike dozens of other projects from the same players—but the two-and-a-half-hour set is infused with a strong sense of modernity and avant-garde innovation. Much of this is used to amplify Williams’s concepts, the band plays everything from long sections of the “Zodiac Suite” (“Taurus,” “Aquarius,” and “Virgo” are presented for the first time ever as Williams intended, and performed by a 24-piece chamber orchestra) to scraps, drafts, and even revisions. Variations of “Stardust” include both trio and big band setting, and “Lonely Moments” appears in two arrangements, one from 1943 and a second from 1946. Thirty minutes in, “Body and Soul” slides into the set with a stunning lushness. A few songs later, “Sleepy Valley,” arranged for the Duke Ellington Orchestra in 1943, features Leblond and Borel, whose solos showcase Umlaut’s dazzling intersection of then and now. This is one of the reasons Umlaut Big Band specifically is just right for Williams’s music. ” Lee Rice Epstein

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Free Jazz Blog, Mary’s Ideas