Brian Landrus Orchestra — Generations
(BlueLand Records, 2017, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2017-10-20
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.
Related artist(s): Brian Landrus
Ginger Baker RIP – Legendary English drummer Ginger Baker has died at the age of 80. After coming to fame with Cream in the 60s alongside Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce, he became one of the most recognized and influential drummers of the rock era. On September 25, his family announced that he was critically ill, and on October 6 his death was confirmed. » Read more
Alex's Hand Seeks Spa Treatment – American / European band Alex's Hand has a new album in the works called Hungarian Spa, which looks to be their biggest and best yet, featuring a large roster of guest musicians. They're seeking funding to take the project on the road, and are looking for help from the crowd of wisdom. » Read more
Legendary Co-Founder of The 13th Floor Elevators Passes Away at Age 71 – Sadly, Roky Erickson passed away on May 31, 2019. Known as the father of psychedelic music and co-founder of the ground breaking 13th Floor Elevators, Roky had a profound influence on music from the 60s to today. Plagued by his own personal demons, Roky had a difficult life and is now free of these burdens. » Read more