Exposé Online banner

Brian Landrus Orchestra — Generations
(BlueLand Records, 2017, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2017-10-20

Generations Cover art

In my book, adding orchestral parts to jazz and rock is a risky business. Not only do you have the needs that all genres have of writing interesting music, but the added necessity to make the orchestra parts interesting as well often presents difficulties that many artists are unable to overcome. For every successful attempt, there are dozens of failures. Brian Landrus is a baritone saxophonist, and Generations presents just short of an hour of modern jazz backed by a 25-member ensemble that includes strings, a full complement of woodwinds, brass, harp, vibraphone, and drums. He handles the arrangements admirably, fully utilizing the tones and colors available, and devises parts for the instruments that don’t just fill in backgrounds for his soloing or cover the chording that a pianist would do in a smaller group. At times I’m reminded of the great jazz soundtracks that Quincy Jones has done, which blend 20th Century techniques with inventive jazz playing. The album starts out with the five parts of the “Jeru Concerto” (four movements plus an interlude). This work features Landrus on the bari, but there are plenty of great passages of ensemble work for the others — after all, a concerto is really all about the soloist. Aside from the concerto, there are seven individual pieces. These other pieces are a bit more balanced in that they don’t focus so much on Landrus himself, so you’ll hear the occasional trumpet or bass clarinet solo, though most of the spotlights for flute, vibes, and the others are composed. There’s some pretty dense polyphony at times, where various groups of instruments compete for attention, but it all fits together quite nicely. In all, Generations is a nice piece of work with a distinctive sound and a pleasingly fresh example of large ensemble arrangement. I suppose it wouldn’t be practical for Landrus to maintain a group like this for a tour, but this studio creation is a fine addition to the canon.


Filed under: New releases, 2017 releases

Related artist(s): Brian Landrus

More info
http://brianlandrus.com/albums/brian-landrus-orchestra-generations

Latest news

2018-09-25
Help the Psychic Equalizer Avoid Extinction – Last year we reviewed the debut album by Psychic Equalizer, a musical project of Hugo Selles. He's now working on the ambitious follow-up to that release, and is seeking funding from listeners around the world. » Read more

2018-09-05
Krautrock Documentary Seeks Funding – The next installment of the Progressive Warriors documentary series will focus on the vast body of music that falls under the banner of "krautrock." As most of our readers will know, previous films have tackled RIO and the Canterbury scene, as well as what we might call "mainstream" prog rock. » Read more

2018-07-31
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more

2018-07-09
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more

2018-07-01
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Djam Karet - Collaborator – Finally, the wait is over. Three years after the awe-inspiring double release of Burning the Hard City and Suspension & Displacement, America's premier progressive ensemble have returned, but...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues