Search - The Jazz Composer's Orchestra of America :: Communications

The Jazz Composer's Orchestra of America
Genres: Jazz, Pop
  •  Track Listings (6) - Disc #1

The Jazz Composer's Orchestra was a brave and visionary 1968 venture in which Carla Bley and Michael Mantler applied the resources of a big band to the intensity and freedom of the avant-garde. Here Mantler creates setting...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: The Jazz Composer's Orchestra of America
Title: Communications
Members Wishing: 3
Total Copies: 0
Label: ECM Records
Release Date: 11/8/1994
Genres: Jazz, Pop
Styles: Avant Garde & Free Jazz, Swing Jazz
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 781182340121

The Jazz Composer's Orchestra was a brave and visionary 1968 venture in which Carla Bley and Michael Mantler applied the resources of a big band to the intensity and freedom of the avant-garde. Here Mantler creates settings for a series of leading soloists, touching on many of the different directions the music was then taking. A piece featuring guitarist Larry Coryell is one of the first vehicles in free jazz featuring amplifier feedback as a key component, while a short piece for Pharoah Sanders has the tenor saxophonist producing a continuous series of instrumental screams against orchestral punctuation. Features for trumpeter Don Cherry and trombonist Roswell Rudd are relatively conservative in terms of sound, but a breakthrough in musical construction. The CD peaks with the overwhelming Communications No. 11, a 33-minute, multilayered invention in which the orchestra matches its powers with the explosive creativity of Cecil Taylor. --Stuart Broomer

CD Reviews

Grab It While You Can!
Christopher Forbes | Brooklyn,, NY | 10/10/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This album represents a rarified moment in time...the late 60's when musicians believed anything was possible. Even the creation of a collectively run large ensemble featuring a stunning array of talent, all with conflicting artistic visions and egos. Pour into this white hot crucible the talent of composer/conductor Mike Mantler and you get an album of brilliance and energy that was ultimately unsustainable for the long haul.The Jazz Composer's Orchestra was a product of Mike Mantler and Carla Bley's efforts in the late 60's to create a collective support organization for cutting edge jazz artists. Eventually, the collective disbanded and the orchestra evolved into the Carla Bley Band, releasing such classics as Escalator Over the Hill. But on this CD, Bley takes a back seat, performing piano on some of the cuts. The Cd is instead devoted to compositions by Mike Mantler, each of which is a kind of small jazz concerto devoted to a particular soloist. The quality of the writing is very high and matches the quality of the incredible array of soloists Mantler writes for.Communications #8 is written for Don Cherry and Gato Barbieri. This is probably the most traditional work on the album. Cherry is typically lyrical and Barbieri adds passionate wails on his tenor, but the work impresses most as a mildly adventurous big band chart. Communications #9 is another story. It features Larry Coryell, before his transformation into a fusion star. His firey electric work fuses the sound and energy of acid rock with the adventurousness of free jazz. As such, the track looks ahead to the sound experiments of Sonny Sharrock, Fred Frith and Eugene Chadbourne. This may be the first example of the kind of electronic improvised music that has taken hold of cities like New York and Chicago. Communications #10 started with a beautiful bass solo by Steve Swallow and features Rosewell Rudd. The work is mellow and quite beautiful...the albums most obvious ballad. Preview features Pharoah Sanders against stark orchestral chords, blowing multiphonics as fierce as anything he ever did with Trane.The whole reason to get this album though is for Communications #11. This over 30 minute, multi movement piece features Cecil Taylor tearing up the keyboard with some of the most frenetic, fierce playing he has ever recorded. The orchestra matches Taylor in energy, though not in volume. Taylor is as ever, the dominant voice, directing the orchestra and molding the music to his own unique personality. The interest in the work is not only in Taylor's playing, but in his approach to material that he didn't create. Since the early 60's Taylor had been playing nothing but his own original compositions. In this piece, Taylor take's Mantler's material and transforms it into a Taylor piece. It is an exhilerating experience for a listener. The energy put into this collective couldn't last. The temperments of the participants were just too great. In particular, Taylor and Mantler/Bley were destined to clash. But this record shows that, even in it's short existance, the Jazz Composer's Orchestra created a special heat, one that has yet to be duplicated in today's free jazz scene."
"Nuff Said
Forrest T. Akers | Richmond, Virginia United States | 04/02/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I do not have the CD but I do have the original vinyl on JCOA Records label. I would like the CD so that I could listen to Cecil Taylor uninterrupted. The CD is the best thing that has ever happened to extended compositions. This is the improvositional exercise upon which all others are measured, except maybe Archie Shepp's "Life at the Donaueschingen"."