A Mighty Hypnotic Rumble from the Adam Rudolph Go! Organic Orchestra
Among largescale improvisational jazz ensembles, the most rhythmic one is Adam Rudolph’s Go! Organic Orchestra. Which shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering that the bandleader is a drummer. They’re more groove-oriented than Karl Berger’s Improvisers Orchestra and the late Butch Morris’ ensembles and utilize faster tempos than Burnt Sugar, at least compared to Greg Tate’s large-scale work with that group. What might come as a surprise is the hypnotic, lullaby aspect to the Rudolph band’s new album, their first studio effort, Sonic Mandala. Though it’s the band’s first album that wasn’t recorded in concert, there’s no question about how live it sounds, the mighty, genuinely orchestral effort of a grand total of 35 musicians. Shamanistic multi-drum interludes punctuate dreamy nocturnal ambience carried on the wings of a ten-piece string section, with departures into Indian and North African-flavored interludes. Flute and bass flute, often in ensemble passages, recure prominently, as do tradeoffs and contrasting pairings between the drum section and higher-register instruments, including winds, flutes and strings.
The suite comprises fourteen linked movements, moving up from a suspenseful rumble to a twinkling, late-night motorway theme, so to speak, plaintive clarinet signaling a shift into nebulosity. A trumpet cadenza announced a shift from calm woodwind ambience into a jungly rhythm that rises with lustrous, Karl Berger-esque colors into Anthony Braxton-style mass glissandos – the effect is among the most breathtaking here. A lively market scene winds down to a quiet bass pulse and then up with tersely dancing strings. Dynamically speaking, this is more of a comfortable ride through the mountains in a vintage Cadillac than a roller coaster.
The brass reaches its greatest heights with a stunningly cantabile resonance – it’s a choir without words – over rhythms that veer from an altered flamenco pulse, to Ethiopian allusions. Another dreamy sequence, rolling percussion and a bright conversation between saxes and violins reach a final, majestic cadenza before the murky but animated drum rumble out. Sleepy? No. Hallucinatory? Absolutely. This is one of the more entertaining and original large ensemble recordings of recent months. The cd comes with a full list of musician credits; core members whose names will resonate with most jazz fans include reedmen Ned Rothenberg and Avram Fefer, flutist Slvain Leroux, cornetist Graham Haynes, guitarist Kenny Wessel, violist Jason Kao Hwang, violinist Skye Steele, cellist Marika Hughes and percussionist Matt Kilmer.
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