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Afro-Cubism

Either/Orchestra

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Album Review

The second release (and first studio outing) from the second edition of Russ Gershon's Either/Orchestra, Afro-Cubism finds the legendary New England avant-garde big band tackling a Latin-influenced songbook. The ten-piece runs through six charts, mostly composed by tenor saxophonist Gershon, but also a cover of George Harrison's "Don't Bother Me." The music is smooth and sultry, with effortless syncopated grooving from the rhythm section of Rick McLaughlin, Harvey Wirht, and Vicente Lebron. With a great attention to detail, the harmony players weave intricate arrangements: Myriad minute calls and responses sound beneath the melodies, songs are passed from instrument to instrument, and the band generally breathes life into the tunes. And though the music isn't nearly as far-reaching as some of the Either/Orchestra's earlier work, it is still deeply satisfying. It is a measure of the band's maturity that it resists the urge to slip into dissonant avant-gardisms, and — instead — serves the songs' grooves. That said, the thoughtfulness of the band is still prevalent, and several of the songs (such as "Yezamed Yebaed") could notably use a bit of a punch.

Biography

Formed: 1985

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

On-and-off for over 15 years, Boston's ten-piece Either/Orchestra has performed engagingly idiosyncratic large-ensemble jazz while serving as a formative workshop for musicians who have received significant popular and critical recognition in their post-E/O careers. Since the band's inception in 1985, the guiding force behind Either/Orchestra has always been composer and tenor/soprano saxophonist Russ Gershon. Under Gershon's leadership, the ensemble has successfully balanced serious musicianship...
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Afro-Cubism, Either/Orchestra
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