European Movement Jazz Orchestra (EMJO) – Live in Coimbra CF 228 )
Rating: Five Stars
Profundity, variety and a multidimensional stance are a few striking attributes of the European Movement Jazz Orchestra’s portfolio. With young Slovenian musicians lending their wares, the large ensemble casts a symphonic overture amid small ensemble breakouts and Kenton-like brashness. They explore the free-zone at times during various interludes, yet the musicians’ collective imaginary powers intimate more than a few persuasive proposals.
With the agility of a smaller ensemble, the band forges various genres into the mix, including contemporary classical music and loose groove rock motifs. Uncannily cohesive, the orchestra throws the book at convention. With lucid theme-building exercises and blitzing horns arrangements, the music is also dappled with animated call and response mechanisms. In effect, the orchestra keeps the listener on the edge via the anticipation of subsequent developments.
Saxophonist Uwe Steinmetz is the primary soloist on “E.S.T.,” which is a warm, but largely upbeat ballad that ascends with swarming horns and a forceful buildup during the bridge. Otherwise, the program features witty twists and turns. They generate pathos and a complex cabaret vibe during “Koln Kuddelmuddel,” countered by the wah-wah horns and a jazz-rock vamp. And on “The Shagg’s Principle,” the artists open with a low-key storyline that segues into a twirling big band movement, counterbalanced by probing statements and feisty soloing jaunts. However, the orchestra diminishes into a piano trio setting for several bars, which is yet another component of the band’s distinct mode of operations. Indeed, the music iterated here moves forward with the impact and flair of a comprehensively devised action-packed thriller.