Adam Lane´s Full Throttle Orchestra – Live In Ljubljana (CF 307)
In light of today’s economic hardships, jazz orchestras or more precisely innovative jazz orchestras are really only little big bands. When you cannot travel with two dozen musicians, a leader must recruit players who can project a synergetic sound that appears greater than the sum of their parts. Masters of the little big bands include Taylor Ho Bynum’s Sextet, Ken Vandermark’s various projects, including Audio One and Resonance Ensemble and Adam Lane’s Full Throttle Orchestra.
Lane’s outfit of seven to nine players (eight here) combines the best of traditional large group swing with what Lane calls live orchestration, where he allows the players to spontaneously arrange the music within rhythmic and melodic cells. Employing musicians that are all composers and leaders of their own bands, like trumpeters Nate Wooley and Susana Santos Silva, saxophonists David Bindman, Matt Bauder, and Avram Fefer, trombonist Reut Regev. This type of improvisation follows the work of Earle Brown and Anthony Braxton, and can also be heard in the modular improvisation approach of Vandermark’s and Peter Brotzmann’s ensembles. What distinguishs Lane’s variation is that he never abandons his rhythmic lines. Lane follows Duke Ellington’s aphorism, “it don’t mean a thing, if it ain’t got that swing,” and maybe better yet, Charles Mingus’ “better get hit in your soul.”
Lane, and drummer Igal Foni anchor this live date from 2012 with a firm control of the pulse. That allows for his front lines to explore and weave melodies and rhythms around his large shouldered themes. Each piece swerves, zags, and snakes according to the players’ choices, but never loses their orientation. The space he gives his players allows for the unique sound of say, Wooley’s trumpet on “Multiply Then Divide” and Bauder’s baritone sax on the opener. Mix into that bit of funk influence, retro-Strayhorn arrangements, and joyous music making and you have a happy crowd. Live In Ljubljana is the Full Throttle Orchestra’s fourth release, and where many listeners listed Lane’s previous disc Ashcan Rantings (Clean Feed, 2010) as one of the best recordings of the year, this disc may up that many to most.