Orchestra U.S.A. – Sonorities (1965/2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96kHz | Time – 32:52 minutes | 713 MB | Genre: Jazz
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: AcousticSounds | Front Cover | © Columbia/Legacy
A serious piece of jazz orchestral work – directed by John Lewis, conducted by Harold Farberman, and featuring solos by Jerome Richardson, Joe Newman, Dick Katz, and Richard Davis. The work’s perhaps Lewis’ most seriously avant garde on record – taking off even further from previous experiments, and featuring compositions written by Jimmy Giuffre, Hall Overton, and Teo Macero. Titles include “Sonorities For Orchestra”, “Pressure”, “Hex”, and “The Spiritual”.
This release by John Lewis’ third stream Orchestra U.S.A. is an ambitious attempt to combine elements of jazz and classical music, although not as successful as his earlier LP Debut. Most of this music was performed by the 30-piece orchestra in a series of concerts during 1964 and 1965, following Harold Farberman’s takeover as conductor following Gunther Schuller; the music within this release, however, was recorded in the studio. Lewis only composed one track for this session, “The Spriritual,” an elaborate reworking of the very familiar “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” featuring alto saxophonist Jerome Richardson. The remaining tracks come off a bit heavy-handed; at their worst, they sound like part of an overblown movie soundtrack. Milijenko Prohaska’s three-part “Concerto No. 2 for Orchestra” has some fine solos by trumpeter Joe Newman and pianist Dick Katz, but is quite uneven. Hall Overton, who was best known for his big-band arrangements of the works of Thelonious Monk, was commissioned by Lewis to write “Sonorities for Orchestra” for this recording. Bassist Richard Davis is prominently featured but, again, the music is a bit obtuse. Jimmy Giuffre’s “Hex” was also commissioned by Lewis; it falls plainly in the avant-garde, but comes up short when compared to his more familiar compositions. Teo Macero’s atonal “Pressure” grows tiresome even more quickly. This long-unavailable LP may attract the attention of the most devout fans of John Lewis, but anyone else can safely bypass it.
01 – The Spiritual
02 – Concerto No. 2 (For Orchestra), Pt. I
03 – Concerto No. 2 (For Orchestra), Pt. II
04 – Concerto No. 2 (For Orchestra), Pt. III
05 – Sonorities for Orchestra
06 – Hex
07 – Pressure
Produced by Teo Macero. Conducted by Harold Farberman. Arranged & Directed by John Lewis.