Dørge's New Jungle Orchestra in that nothing is sacred save for the joy of making music. There's the influence of Indonesia music that NJO has explored over the years in the percussion section of several tracks, especially "Pangkur" that features the vocals of Megan O'Donoghue-Williams and the work of Sri Joko Raharjo on gender (metallophone) and rebab (2-stringed bowed lute). In fact, the composer traveled to Surakarta, Indonesia, to record the percussion for the track.
Elsewhere, the two bassists lead the ensemble into "La Noche Negra" joined by guest percussionist Lalo Bello (congas) who locks in with percussionist Adam Kozie to create a most sensuous rhythm. The strings engage in a call-and-response with the trumpets and flute on the main theme. The cellists give added depth to "Zim" along with the bowed basses. Alto saxophonist Chris Credit (who is also a member of Ms. Boshnack's Reptet) on "Symposium", rising over the brass and strings. The cellists' low notes open to a fine bass solo before the ensemble returns for a section where everyone has his or her phrases. It feels magical when the instruments come together to read the main theme. Percussionist Bello returns for the Afro-Cuban "jump" piece "B'schnultimate", once again joining forces with Kozie (and french horn player who also plays percussion Greg Campbell) to create a most wonderful rhythm for the leader to play her finest solo.
What's in a name? Admittedly, B'Schnorkestra may be a weird monicker but the music the ensemble makes is exciting, melodic, at times quite fascinating and great fun. The string section is fully engaged throughout (they are not there strictly for color) and the numerous solos are quite strong. Don't ignore this recording, following the title's command and "Go To Orange" - for more information, go to thebshnorkesra.wordpress.com.
"Live at the Kitano" is so good you wish you had been there as Dick Hyman and Ken Peplowksi created this delightful program. The hour seems to go by in a flash and, trust me, you'll want to return to this CD many, many times. For more information, go to www.victoriarecords.net.
The urgent piano chords that introduce "Courage" quickly give way to a lengthy bass solo; as bassist S closes his statement, the pianist re-introduces the opening chords but then takes the piece in a direction where the drummer varies the tempo and the bass plays counterpoint. The bassist takes another long yet melodic solo before Williams expresses his musical opinion with a fine solo of his own. The title track is a ballad yet one that displays a sense of adventure, with rubato sections, strong cymbal work, bowed bass and a piano solo that displays a "soulful" feel. Weidman rides atop the hard-edged drumming, creating a solo flowing with both rhythmic and melodic ideas.
The program closes with a handsome reading of Stevie Wonder's "Send One Your Love" - the pianist truly caresses the melody but also allows himself to dig into the song originally recorded by the composer for his 1973 Lp, "The Secret Life of Plants." Weidman does not overplay here, or anywhere on the CD, building his solo from the melody, adding his own colors and rhythmic feints.
James Weidman is not a prolific recording artist, 5 albums in a career that spans nearly 4 decades. But, he sure knows how to make them standout. His previous release, 2009's "Three Worlds", featured Marty Ehrlich on reeds, Ray Anderson on trombone and the afore-mentioned Professor Hoggard on vibes - that CD, like "Truth and Actuality", covered a wide swath of musical territory but had a bigger sound palette. That palette is not diminished one iota on the new Trio recording but shines in many different and enjoyable ways. For more information, go to www.jamesweidman.com.