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Album Review

During the 40-minute documentary included on the packed-in DVD in his Orchestralli release, former Police drummer Stewart Copeland declares his love for Buddy Rich. He also mentions the music Rich plays is "not necessarily my kind of music." What he says he loves about Rich is the man's "effervescence" more than the compositions he plays. Later he talks about how music is "instinct," "best when it comes from the heart rather than the brain," and "is how it feels." The man also wrote an opera for the Cleveland Opera Company, so take all these things into consideration before attacking Orchestralli. At no point does Stewart use the best word to describe his own music: knotty. But this knotty music is filled with effervescence, heart, and uplifting emotion. Zappa's jazz at its happiest or "what if Aaron Copland fronted the modern high school jazz band" are fair comparisons, but this "serious" music often breaks free of any comparisons and winds itself into a thrilling frenzy that only recalls that guy who used to drum for the Police. "Eve" pays homage to Weil and Mancini before kicking it up a notch, allowing Copeland to bring out that whip crack on the snare that propelled Sting and Andy Summers into high gear. The percussive, just-a-shade-too-big-to-call-a-chamber ensemble here responds the same way, coming alive and forgetting about how "serious" this music is. Good thing too, because Copeland's compositions probably aren't the most fascinating charts to read, and they're either pop or soundtracky. They do have some interesting twists — sometimes too many — but more than anything, they're jumping-off points for the parties involved. Generally things follow the "Eve" pattern. The shrunken orchestra heavily plays an interesting melody, Stewart and the four-piece percussion unit — Ensemble Bash — he brought with him show the orchestra how it's done, then everyone catches fire and you can't help but smile. Recorded live in Italy during a short stint of shows during 2002, the sound quality is crisp and does an excellent job of capturing this swirling tangle of notes. Longtime Copeland fans will be especially interested in the vibrant bits of the Rumble Fish soundtrack and the redo of the Equalizer television theme here; however, being familiar with the originals won't give anyone a leg up on appreciating how the man delivers on his belief in "feel" throughout Orchestralli.


Born: 16 July 1952 in Alexandria, VA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

After rising to international stardom with the Police, Stewart Copeland largely rejected his pop music past to pursue a career as a composer, authoring a prolific series of film scores, operas, and ballets. Born July 16, 1952 in Alexandria, VA, Copeland -- the son of a CIA agent -- spent his formative years in the Middle East but attended college in California before settling in England in 1975 and playing drums with the progressive rock unit Curved Air. Following the group's dissolution, he founded...
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Orchestralli, Stewart Copeland
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