Either/Orchestra: Afro-Cubism (2002)
Saxophonist/Composer Russ Gershon, leader of the ten piece Either/Orchestra, had a problem: Too much music in the can for one CD. His solution: Two CDs, forty some odd minutes apiece, and lower the price from the sixteen dollar range down to $10.99, to better compete with the bargain-priced reissues offered up by the major labels.
Afro-Cubism is the first of the new pair of CDs to be released on Gershon's Accurate Records. This is a churning Latin stew tinctured with the spice of Dizzy's Gillespie's Big Bands, flavored with a dollop of the intensity of Sam Rivers Rivbea All-Star Orchestra, and throw in a fistfull of Randy Weston's (Melba Liston arranged) large ensemble work from a few years back. A driving sound, a brash, hard-blowing crewthree brass, three reeds, in front of piano/bass/drums/congas.
Afro-Cubism has three Gershon originals, one Greg Burke (The E/O's new piano man)tune, a Gershon-arranged Latin/Ethiopian (more about Ethiopia later) number, and (I kid you not) a wild Latin jazz take on George Harrison's "Don't Bother Me" (off Meet the Beatles ?), renamed here No Me Molesta. The Quiet Beatle, one assumes, would love it.
Now, the Ethiopian connection: Gershon and Company's last CD, More Beautiful Than Death included "The Ethiopian Suite", a three part tour de force that they performed, sans charts, at Dizzy's in downtown San Diego last yeara swirling, three-part dark continent-inspired musical maelstrom that brought the house down.
Now the band is planning a concert series in the Boston area with the 2002-3 "Collaborations" series. Do notdo not, do not, do notmiss them. They are an electrifying (albiet accoustic) live band.
And E/O is scheduled to record an album of Ethiopean music with various collaborators for the French Buda label, for release in January 2003.
The second collection of Either/Orchestra's too-much-music-for-one-CD set, Neo-Modernism will be released in March of 2003. If it's half as inspired as Afro-Cubism it's a must-have CD.
Track Listing: Harvey's Entrance, Blue Attitude, Soul Song, Look to the Lion, Yezamed Yebaed, Don't Bother Me/No Me Molesta
Personnel: Tom Halter, trumpet; Colin Fisher, trumpet; Joel Yennior, trombone; Jeremy Udder, alto sax, flute; Russ Gershon, tenor sax; Charlie Kolhase, baritone sax; Gregory Burke, piano; Rick McLaughlin, bass; Harvey Wirht, drums, cymbals, cowbells; Vincente Lebron, congas, bongos, timbales