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Artistry In Rhythm

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Album Review

No task is seemingly unattainable for this extremely versatile aggregation of musicians, who in the past have intermingled Strauss waltzes with modern jazz/big band-style arrangements amid other ambitious undertakings. Recorded live in Switzerland, this 2001 release is all about bold, brassy, and highly charged horns atop fiery, or perhaps fusion-like, electrified guitar leads and funk/rock rhythms. Here, the band melds a Stan Kenton-style wall-of-sound with tricky time signatures and brazen horn charts as the orchestra embarks upon 15 variations dedicated to 15 European capital cities. Overall, there is quite a bit to digest within these 77 minutes of music and with this release, the listener will be treated to impassioned soloing, boisterous interplay, numerous twists, turns, and sinuous rhythmic developments. Simply stated, the Vienna Art Orchestra represents one of Europe's most exhilarating outfits.


Formed: 1977

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s, '00s

In the jazz world, Vienna is about as far from New York's Lincoln Center as you can get. It follows that Mathias Rüegg's Vienna Art Orchestra has about as much in common with Wynton Marsalis' Lincoln Center big band as a Sacher torte has with a Hostess Cup Cake; while they share some ingredients, the Austrian product satisfies on a more profound level. By the turn of the century, the Lincoln Center paradigm defined the jazz big band as a finished concept -- locked into the past, serving mostly as...
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